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The 37th Central Convention of the Communist Party of Canada April 5‐7, 2013, Toronto Canada – A Contribution to the Discussion
Don Currie, Editor Focus On Socialism, Chair CPS
March 29, 2013
Canadians for Peace & Socialism The 37th Central Convention of the Communist Party of Canada April 5‐7, 2013, Toronto Canada – A Contribution to the Discussion
Box 168 Slocan BC V0G 2C0 Canada 1 250 355 2669 A Decisive Turn to the Working Class
The 37th Convention of the Communist Party of Canada (CPC) will fulfill the expectations of its Main Resolution if delegates resolve, as the concentration task of the party’s work, to make a decisive turn to the working class, rapidly, and by all means available. The working class needs the liberating ideas of Marxism. The country needs the liberating power of the working class.
The 150 Anniversary of Confederation and the 100th Anniversary of the Russian Revolution
As Canadians move towards marking the 150th anniversary of Confederation July 1st 2017 the international working class will at the same time be marking the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution November 7th 2017. The former event denotes the political triumph of private capital over the Canadian Dominion from coast to coast to coast. The latter event denotes the political triumph of the working class over capitalist feudal relations in Russia demonstrating for all workers in all countries that only the overthrow of capitalism and the building of real socialism can stop imperialist war, end wage slavery and all forms of human exploitation and save the planet from environmental disaster. These two historic events provide the 37th Convention of the Communist Party of Canada with an opportunity that must not be missed. It is imperative that the party become seized with the urgency of doing everything necessary to move to the forefront of what is certain to become in the next four years a country‐wide struggle of contending visions about Canada’s future. The 37th Convention must adopt a resolution that tasks the incoming Central Committee with the responsibility of preparing a national conference marking these historic milestones that would include the launching, as its first priority, the publishing of a new revised Communist Party Program.
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A Communist Vision for Canada
The political tensions now evident everywhere, federally, provincially and municipally have become a veritable storm, wave after wave of unresolved crisis issues of chronic unemployment, homelessness, betrayal of the hopes of the youth, impossibly high levels of family indebtedness, growth of urban and rural poverty, despair over the destruction of viable community‐based productive industries and the poison of drugs and internet violence to list just a few. Such economic and social problems have been made more acute by the effects of the global depression of 2008 and its ruinous effects on the working class and our country. The crisis will deepen and will not be solved by the next federal election. A country‐wide political struggle will continue in search of a program that will provide an alternative to Prime Minister Harper’s vision for Canada of unrelenting IMF‐ federal government austerity, unbridled bank tyranny, gambling the future of the entire economy on the marketing of energy resource commodities, militarization of the economy and participation in future NATO wars The Communist Party must have a better plan. The Party must refine the plan, articulate it and above all fight for it. There is no other party to do it.
The Crisis of Capitalist Parties and Their Programs
All capitalist parties in concert with a corrupt media fed by a steady stream of big business propaganda, supplied by corporate funded think tanks and a pedantic academe remote from the realities of working class life, perpetuate the massive bourgeois historical revisionist fraud that all the wealth creation and civilizing achievements of our people would cease without capitalists. Only the Communist Party is equipped, theoretically and organizationally, to expose that fraud. Only by the Party’s mass work will properly accord the civilizing achievements of our country in the past, now and in the future to whom it rightfully belongs; the working class and to the labouring masses of urban and rural Canada, Quebec and First Nations Canada, taking inspiration from the progressive community of science and culture. And most importantly, to explain that if that great civilizing project is to continue in the interests of our people and the sovereignty and independence of our country, a struggle must be waged for an entirely new political power without financial oligarchies. 1 There was a time when feudalism prevailed and feudal monarchial despotism was a dead hand over all progress.
Feudal reaction not only brought misery to the serfs and peasants, it prevented the further development of productive forces and the rise of a new class, the bourgeoisie representing a new system, capitalism. For a short historical time the nascent bourgeoisie waged a struggle with the support of a growing working class against feudal despotism. For that brief time, capitalism could be defined as progressive. Having achieved power the capitalist
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State Monopoly Capitalism, Imperialism – The Final Stage of Capitalism
The development of capitalism to the power it is today in Canada encompasses about 400 years of history. For approximately last 100 years capitalism in Canada has been in the final stage of its development, state monopoly capitalism, imperialism. State monopoly capitalism is incapable of any progressive development in the interests of the vast majority who must labour to live. The productive forces of society are pent up and in conflict with outmoded relations of production. State monopoly capitalism is the obstacle to solving any of the critical economic and social problems of our time and by its anarchic and uneven development and inter‐imperialist rivalries threatens the very survival of the planet with “conventional” and nuclear war and environmental catastrophe. All parties claiming to represent labour, except the Communist Party, describe the crisis created by the social production of wealth and its appropriation by the private owners of the means of production as a problem of social inequality. The internet overflows with exposures and denunciations of the injustice of inequality. If the critique of capitalism could overthrow it, Canada would have been a socialist country decades ago. Capitalism in its imperialist stage cannot be overthrown by exposure alone. State monopoly capitalism places so much emphasis and energy into the battle of ideas, because its ideologists are super‐sensitive to the fact, that monopoly can suppress all resistance to its system of exploitation, only so long as such resistance remains spontaneous, and as it were, blind to its own power. The Communist Party solves the problem of blind spontaneity by bringing Marxism to the struggle of the working class. That is its primary task.
The Limitations and Failures of Social Democracy
One of the main political devices and means used by monopoly to prevent the rise of revolutionary class consciousness is to bribe sections of the working class. Lenin defined this section as an aristocracy of labour. Side by side with a privileged middle urban and rural stratum, dependent on the parasitism of the system, this labour aristocracy reject revolution creating bourgeois labour parties, groups and formations that limit their activity to attempts to reform state monopoly capitalism.
class at the same time unleashed the pent up new productive forces broadly defined in history as the industrial revolution. At the same time, capitalism freed the peasantry from their feudal servitude by rendering them landless and property‐less and exploitable in a new form of slavery, wage slavery. The epoch of feudalism was gone and capitalism became the new strident global power of exploitation which imposed its rule everywhere with the utmost ruthlessness.
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The illusion that the leadership of the NDP is honestly misguided in their parliamentary electoral strategy and that mass pressure from a more active left can correct the shuffle to the centre, serves only to cover up the fact that the NDP leadership and its leader Thomas Mulcair is conscious of the fact that they are doing the work of monopoly capitalism by other means. There is no direct correlation between the existence of reform administrations and the big decisive struggles of labour and farmers for their vital class needs. In fact the biggest advances in real gains for the Canadian working class have been made irrespective of the government in power and are attributable to independent mass political working class action within which the Communists played a decisive role. 2
The Class Struggle Origins of Reforms of Capitalism and the New Tasks of Labour
Major social reforms in our country won by the people, sometimes by resorting to revolutionary uprisings dating from the Rebellions in Upper and Lower Canada in the 1830’s to the Métis Rebellion in Manitoba of 1867 and the Northwest Rebellion of 1885, through the period of Confederation, the mass labour resistance to WW1, the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike, the On To Ottawa march of the unemployed in the Dirty Thirties, the mobilization of popular support to defeat fascism in Spain and WW2 to today were the political precursors to the enacting of formal legislation providing limited guarantees of people’s rights: (a partial list only and mentioned to illustrate a point): • • • • • • • • • de‐criminalizing the right of workers to organize unions, bargain collectively and strike both in the private and public sectors; compulsory elementary public school education; public health care; child labour laws; minimum wage laws; old age pensions and the Canadian Pension Plan legislation; human rights legislation; voting rights for women; freedom of choice and abortion rights for women;
2 The one instance when a social reformist government converged with mass popular electoral support around a
reform of lasting importance was the enacting of Medicare in Saskatchewan under the CCF led by Tommy Douglas. That breakthrough in post‐WW2 Canada was a continuation in different conditions of the theories of a free public health care system pioneered by Dr. Norman Bethune in the 1930’s, a Communist, and the example from 1917 of the established and operating free public health care system in the socialist Soviet Union. Today the example in North America, of the ability of even a small and beleaguered socialist state to provide the highest standards of health care to its people is demonstrated by socialist Cuba.
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• • • • • • • • • property rights for women; protecting women and racial minorities from violence and abuse; repeal of Section 98 of the Criminal code; ridding Quebec of the Duplessis imposed Padlock Law; mass resistance that arose against the imposition of the War Measures Act in 1970; enactment of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms; the struggle led by the CPC to remove state restrictions on small parties from participating in federal elections; formal legal recognition of the land claim rights of First Nations; legal recognition of the rights of the Métis to pursue land claims arising from the Riel Rebellion of 1867.
Other formal laws redressing economic, social and democratic inequities can be listed.
The Attempt of Monopoly to Roll Back Popular Democratic People’s Gains
The point in recalling these achievements is that every single one of these gains is under attack by Prime Minister Harper and his government. The federal government by the deceitful means of introducing new legislation that neutralize such gains or by refusing to enforce laws with which they disagree is unrelenting. Most egregious, is a form of right wing political engineering that orchestrates bogus hearings to give the attack on progressive legislation a veneer of formal democracy which is then spread by a compliant media as though it were discussed and in accord with majority public opinion. The struggle to restore what has been lost, preserve what remains and expand all of the social and democratic gains of the people is a front of struggle made necessary by the fact that monopoly has never reconciled itself to according to the people any share in social wealth that reduces monopoly control of the state.
The Limitations of Parliamentary Electoral Politics
The hopes the Canadian people place in parliamentary elections to bring about real change for the working people arise from their steadfast support for what has been won in the belief that those achievements are permanent and protected by constitutional guarantees and legislation. The illusion of the permanence of existing democratic freedoms and universal social welfare gains such as the Canada Health Act is a serious weakness in public perception arising from illusions about the impartiality of the state. That is far from the truth since the state and its government are instruments of class rule in the hands of finance capital. Even if the fiction of the impartiality of the state and government had a grain of truth in it, Canadians are being forced to confront the fact that the principles of democracy are barren and without force when they become subverted in practice by the very government that is elected and pledged to uphold the popular will.
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That is the grim reality of parliamentary democracy today which is perpetuated by social democracy.
The Consequences of Finance Capitalist Domination of the State
Finance capitalist domination over the state has rendered parliamentary democracy in all of its forms and in its practice purely formal. Parliamentary democracy is powerless to prevent finance capital from destroying any achievement of the people that does not give primacy to maximum profiteering. That is amply clear to all in the adoption of omnibus budgets that dismantle existing social gains and democratic guarantees. In 2013 Canadian capitalism in its monopoly stage has mortally weakened people’s sovereignty over government and the state. The Main Resolution has described many examples where this is happening to the social programs undermined by IMF austerity, finance capitalist, monetary, fiscal, budgetary and taxation policies of the government led by Prime Minister Harper engendering outside Parliament a popular mass opposition and resistance by organized labour, peace, environmentalist, students and First Nations movements. The need for a new power and a new state with new forms of people’s sovereignty and constitutional guarantees to replace the outmoded state monopoly system is on the agenda of Canada’s future.
Resistance Needs Definition. What Forces are in Retreat?
Working class resistance is more than a defensive posture that implies retreat. The mood of the working class today is not one of retreat. CPS believes that great care must be taken by the Convention delegates in approving any formulations defining the nature of the resistance of the working class today as purely defensive. It is not correct to attribute to the working class what is without question a retreat by social democracy, including the hesitancy of the leadership of the CLC and most of the provincial federations to confront monopoly. The readiness of the working class to fight back and regain lost ground is what needs to be gauged and correctly so as to raise the correct slogans of defiance and to distinguish it from all forms of class collaboration. Voting for the NDP which will continue to happen in large numbers is a passive reaction not indicative of the capacity of the people to rise up and hit back in other forms of struggle. Moreover the complicity of NDP governments in defending capitalism is a source of weakness not strength for organized labour that requires exposure. The record to date of the NDP governments in Nova Scotia, Manitoba and the impending election of the NDP in British Columbia fall far short of labour’s expectations because such governments shrink from challenging the dominance of finance capital over the state and the economy. In fact it is a staple of NDP policy today to demand labour support at the polls, even as it assures finance capital that it has nothing to fear from a social democratic government since its only motivation is to run the system of capitalism
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more efficiently than the Liberals and Conservatives. As the NDP opposition in Parliament moves to the centre and labour refuses to move with it, the NDP leadership nonetheless demands that labour voters stand ready to elect the NDP to power. The main reason for the Communists to run in federal and provincial elections is to present a program that helps workers to understand the necessity of moving the struggle beyond the struggle for reforms and to provide all workers seeking a revolutionary answer to exploitation an electoral option that give expression to such militancy. That is why a Communist electoral platform can never be limited to reforms in general but must always contain those demands that as Lenin advised contain within them “approaches to the revolution.” Today the Communist electoral program speaks to the necessity of withdrawal of the country from NATO, from NAFTA, from the North American Security Perimeter Agreement and from the tyranny of the IMF coupled with outlining the possibilities for peaceful planned economic development that arises from people’s sovereignty over all levers of economic and political power. One is not possible without the other. The power and appeal of the Communist public platform is diminished unless we elaborate what we mean when we call for the withdrawal of Canada from all imperialist military and trade blocs as indispensible to the country’s continued independence and its ability to wrest the economy from the grip of monopoly. That is important so as to distinguish the far reaching vision of the Communists about the future of the country from the limitations of democratic and patriotic groups who assert that it is possible to withdraw from US domination without at the same time challenging the dominance of Canadian finance capital over the government and the state. This is not a new question for us. It keeps recurring. In struggling for unity we do not set aside our socialist aims. Socialism is on the historic agenda because the development of state monopoly capitalism put it there. Finance Capital, Reaction at Home and Abroad. The 37th Convention must improve and refine all of its approaches to the Canadian people that explain the fact that no government of finance capital today can have a progressive foreign policy and a reactionary domestic policy or vice versa. Finance capital has one class interest at home and abroad, to promote and perpetuate the profit system and any political party seeking working class support must make that fact clear. What is the duty of Communists to say to workers who will vote NDP and not Communist? We must say that Thomas Mulcair is not the solution to Prime Minister Harper since both are pledged to uphold capitalism including when it leads the country into imperialist wars. The difference is that Prime Minister Harper does it openly and Thomas Mulcair does it shamefacedly. Pressure mounted on the NDP to cease
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being a party that supports capitalism will not change it, because if such pressure were to do so the NDP would not be a reform party and would become a revolutionary democratic party.
The Solution to the Public Social Disaster Created by the Private Profit System
What social democracy upholds when all is said and done is the profit system. What it refuses to confront is the consequences for the people in helping to prop up the profit system. The private profit system has resulted in a public social disaster. The Main Resolution describes that fact in some detail. A new power that will rupture and end the dominance of finance capital over the state is now imperative. That new power can only arise out of the resistance of the working class through independent political mass action for itself as a class and by its own actions on behalf of all people who must labour to live. It is up to the Communists to go to the working class with its program for a socialist future and explain that if Canada is to advance in a consistently progressive direction of peace and planned nation building labour must lead the whole country against monopoly as envisaged in the Communist program. What the 37th Convention must re‐visit in its theoretical understanding of Canada today, and task the new incoming leadership to undertake as its first responsibility, is a re‐study of the full meaning for today of Lenin’s great work “Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism” and in all of his subsequent writings from that point forward, that imperialism is the final stage in the development of capitalism (and this is the main point) beyond which there is only socialism.
The Main Slogan of the CPC Program
CPS proposed in the first few paragraphs of this contribution the calling of a party conference to mark the 150th Anniversary of Confederation and the 100th Anniversary of the Russian Revolution with the centre piece of such a conference the launching a new revised program. To win the hearts and minds of militant workers engaged in struggles for their vital economic and political rights now, the current program of the CPC must be revisited, critically discussed and brought into line with the new demands of the class struggle. The essence of the change that is required is revealed in the incomplete slogan “Socialism is the Future”. To frame correctly the program discussion that is needed is to update the CPC program slogan to say: “Socialism is the future, FIGHT FOR IT NOW!” The integration of immediate demands of the working class with the goal of socialism is the new challenge confronting the party leadership. That task is made more urgent by significant changes in the composition of the working class that make it more receptive to the idea of a complete change in the economic and political system of capitalism.
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The Causes of the Altered Market Demand for Wage Labour
Changes in the capitalist economy have altered the market demand for wage labour. The changes arise from extreme centralization and concentration of capital. The latter does not mean the end of petty and middle capitalist enterprise which arises constantly. What it does mean is that more and more of the work that is created by non‐monopoly capitalist production is nonetheless completely dependent on monopoly for survival and can be destroyed quickly with changes in the investment decisions of finance capital. Over and over again communities dependent on one major corporate employer are devastated when the major employer shuts down and leaves. These changes in market demand for labour which require deep study account for the psychological mood and level of political awareness particularly among young men and women entering productive labour in highly competitive technologically advanced workplaces where union protection is absent. Such a study is vital to understanding what must be done to counter the anti‐union employer propaganda that asserts modern workers have a shared responsibility with finance capital and its governments to solve the problems of capitalism, falling under the employer demand for worker “flexibility”. Flexibility is employer code for softening worker resistance to the intensification of labour, the acceptance of part time employment without benefits and the disruptions to family life of irregular shift work, without child care and without travel time compensation. The demand of employers for employee “flexibility” goes hand in hand with right wing government propaganda that workers must at the same time be more “individually responsible” for all contingencies and arrive for work “job ready”. 3 The abandonment of the responsibility of employer job training and adherence to apprenticeship rules will be worsened by the recent budgetary changes to apprenticeship and job training. Once again as so many times in the past the government has engineered the system to provide a wage subsidy to employers without any enforcement as to its actual application to training Canadians for new occupations. What should cause the CPC and the YCL to study deeply and respond to is that the changes in the apprenticeship training program have been undertaken by the government in consultation with the employers – not educators and the organized labour movement that knows intimately what is required. The Convention must adopt a resolution directing the incoming CC to assist the YCL to develop a Jobs For Youth Program that includes the demand that unemployed working class and unemployed youth be the first recipients of any training program and that there be a legislated requirement by employers to accept them upon completion of their introductory training and provide them with the
Employer pressures on workers to conform are cunning 21st century adaptations of 20th century “Taylorism” and other discredited time study techniques accompanied with “employee relations” experts and management theories based on anti‐union bafflegab that promote merit pay schemes resulting in an intensification of competition on the job as a device to prevent unionism to grow.
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assurance that they will remained employed so as to progress to full journeyperson status without interruption.
A Country‐Wide Campaign for Higher Wages
Sector by sector, the Communists must know intimately the changed working conditions, the new methods used by private capital to extract surplus value. Regional disparities in wages levels and the reduction in purchasing power of after tax take home pay is a central issue. The race to the bottom in wages can only be stopped by a nationwide campaign for higher wages that raise the national average wage level to what is required to provide all the needs of today’s families regardless of where they live. A country‐wide wage movement is the primary means to reach the unorganized and the lowest paid workers at a time when there is justifiable anger at exorbitant corporate and banking profits in the midst of a global recession and when the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister hector workers for being unwilling to participate in equality of sacrifice between employers and workers. A resolution calling upon organized labour to mount a nation‐wide wage movement is a minimum task for the 37th Convention.
Higher Productivity For Whom?
As part of that discussion on wages delegates must delve into employer demands for higher labour productivity and expose its purpose; a fraudulent argument to justify the importation of part time low wage contract labour, to drive down current average wages and destroy unions, and by withholding unemployment insurance benefits, enforce labour mobility demands. 4
4 Labour productivity is a demand on labour to increase the rate of profit by whatever means employers deem
necessary, which can include lowering the cost of the renewal of labour (the importation of cheap goods, junk food, food banks,) increasing the hours of work, and intensification of labour by speed up. The introduction of new production methods requiring larger investments of constant capital results in a lowering of the rate of profit since profit is derived from variable capital ‐ the amount capitalists allocate to the purchase of labour power. The reluctance of industry to spend on research and development is related to employer preference to derive profit from longer hours and intensification of labour and keep the rate of profit high. A high rate of profit also means a more rapid accumulation of capital in the hands of capitalists since all new capital is the result of capitalists taking a portion of surplus value and investing it in new means of production. In today’s global system of capitalism new capital is not always put back into existing Canadian industries but is increasingly exported to low wage countries with the aim of deriving as high rate of profit from low wage variable capital. With modern day corporate supply chains, commodities produced in low wage countries can easily flood the Canadian market and destroy home grown industry. Such is the anarchy of the system that destroys itself.
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Pensions and Rising Retirement Age
The take‐back stance of employers and government in collective bargaining has for the first time in decades raised the retirement age of workers while simultaneously lowering private and public pension compensation imposing new stress levels and shortening the life expectancy of long time employees. The Convention is called upon to reject the pension reform policies crafted by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and Minister’s Clement, Finley and Menzies who with the approval of the Prime Minister and with the connivance of big private insurance companies have enacted laws that will have the effect of driving more retirement savings to private mutual fund and private insurance investors. This is happening when an indexed universal publicly funded retirement pension plan for all is affordable. The scandal of the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board (CCPIB) possessing $152 billion of Canadian workers pension funds to invest in such dubious schemes as real estate gambles in Australia and Israeli Apartheid when millions of Canadians are without adequate retirement income is a travesty and a crime. 5 The Convention is called upon to expose and reject all of the corporate sponsored changes to pension legislation, demand a universal pension plan for all as demanded and as proposed and campaigned for by the CLC, enhanced by the Communist demand that corporations not receive one penny of CCPIB investments and its purpose be re‐legislated to serve the social needs of Canadians not foreign corporations.
End Homelessness! Affordable Housing for All Who Need It!
In spite of nominally low down payments and interest rates, wages are not enough for most aspiring homeowners to make monthly payments because of the inflated price of family homes that have risen 127% since 2000 and 50% since 2006. Houses are estimated to be priced at a minimum of 20 to 30% above real value. The inflated price of houses is the virtual pillar of sand propping up the real estate market and accounts for much of the enormous consumer debt of wage earners compelled to borrow against future earnings to pay for necessities and mortgages. Canadians now hold $1.2 trillion of mortgage debt and the federal government, with taxpayers money now is the guarantor of $800 billion of that amount, which is almost one half of Canada’s annual economic output.
5 The work and publications of Canada’s own Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade (C.O.A.T) has exposed the link
between the CCPIB and the corporations involved in the arms trade. COAT and its publication Press for Conversion should be widely promoted by the CPC and the Canadian Peace Congress.
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These facts are available from a rare and candid exposure of the collusion between the Harper Government and the banks, to artificially keep house prices high and at the same time shift all of the bank risk for mortgage loans to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). 6 Some of the salient facts are not surprising, such as home prices rising faster than incomes. The objective of most working class families is to purchase a home to live in. The objective of the government has been to keep home purchasing prices rising to stimulate the growth of a housing market bubble that will continue to return windfall profits to real estate speculators, land developers, marketers and the banks. To perpetuate the housing bubble and encourage a steady rise in housing prices, Finance Minister Flaherty issued an order to CMHC to start buying tens of billions in mortgages from Canadian banks giving those banks an influx of cash to issue new loans and of course make more money on interest, by using the Canadian taxpayers as insurers. The initial $69 billion that flowed to the banks from CMHC purchase of bank debt went back into the market at low interest to prop up sagging sales after the 2008 depression. More alarming is the fact that in 2006 the Harper government was on the cusp of inviting into Canada US mortgage insurers that would have unleashed in Canada the ruinous sub‐prime scam that ruined the lives of millions of US family home owners. Only the intervention of long time Bank of Canada Governor David Dodge prevented the government from exposing the country to a real estate disaster bigger than what it now is. And the corrupt media continues to characterize Harper and Flaherty as outstanding financial managers of the economy. The hypocrisy of the Prime Minister and Finance Minister lecturing Canadian wage earners about being prudent and to reduce debt occurs at the same time as they boast of the country having the lowest corporate tax rate among G7 states and impose on the Canadian people a low wage austerity budgetary policy. The scandal of high credit card interest and now, the epidemic of cell phone rates, the highest in the world, traps workers especially young workers into a spiral of debt that due to low wages they can never escape. Such a cynical system, that is given full reign by government on behalf of big corporate communications providers and retailers, all involved in the “communications trinket economy” prevents young workers from saving to purchase homes and establish families. Homelessness among the youth and food bank dependency by a growing number of workers, pensioners and their families is the 21st century version of the soup kitchens of the Dirty Thirties. The 37th Convention is called upon to adopt resolutions on the housing and debt crisis and renew its demand for a government program of low cost public housing. Any resolution on the matter must
The full article can be found in the December 27th 2012 edition of the Globe and Mail.
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include a demand that bankrolling banks with federal funds must end and all such funds provided be returned with interest, to the people of Canada. The resolution must demand reductions in credit card interest and cell phone rates.
Working Class Women Changing the Workplace and Strengthening Labour Struggles
The influx of women to the work force over the decades rising from about 20% in the decades of the 60’s and 70’s to 50% today and in regions where unemployment among male workers in the manufacturing sector is high, to well over that number. Wage inequality for women prevails in all sectors where unions do not exist. To escape second class wages, wherever possible women are choosing to get higher education and many are now choosing to work in industries where wages are equal and union protection is available. The numbers of women employed in the skilled trades is growing. The presence of women in the workplace has strengthened the solidarity of men and women in raising to higher levels the urgency of the demand for universal child care, maternity leave and breaking down vestiges of outmoded patriarchal belief systems about modern family life. Of particular and urgent attention by delegates is the plight of older single or widowed women because of a lifetime of low income are dependent on OAS and supplement. Many are unable to cope. The federal and provincial governments are colluding with developers to reduce the amount of affordable public retirement housing for seniors, and allowing developers to sell buildings for renovation or destruction that convert low cost apartment living into upscale high rental or for sale apartments and condos. 7 A special and separate resolution on the demands of working women that include wage equality, free universal child care, housing and special attention to the needs of single elderly women and the extension of union rights for women to all work places is urgent. Working Class Life is Canada These few examples of working class life today serve to underline the vital importance of the delegates at the 37th Convention to stay focused on what is primary for the vanguard party, the working class.
CPS received this comment from a senior woman, militant peace activist living in Maple Ridge Vancouver and writes: “Hello Don: Great to hear from you. I doubt Maple Ridge is any different from most cities in B.C. or Canada. The mayor and council are all land developers and realtors and they are busy building expensive apartment buildings, or condos. The one closest to me is $449,000. Meanwhile the building I live in has been sold and will no longer be B.C. Housing. It’s a shock to all of us. All around here are homeless, many old people live on the street. Because of my age I now use this condition as a barometer of the future. Truly it is going to be about struggle.”
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Working class life is not an abstraction homogenized in a classless bourgeois version of some mythical equal opportunity society served up on TV. The position of the working class in the 21st century in relation to the means of production is unaltered from what it has always been the class of creators of all wealth which is appropriated privately by the owners of the means of production. What has changed and is changing is the sectoral distribution of the working class. It requires a new study of all assumptions and approaches to introducing to workers the Communist program for socialism. Today the working class is employed in reduced numbers in basic industry and manufacturing and in increased numbers in what is loosely defined as the service sector. The interconnection of workers at the point of production and the ancillary support sector are an integrated wage earning work force of mutually dependent 18 million gainfully employed Canadians. A persistent permanent unemployment rate of about 8% and rising to 16% among the youth means that 1.5 million Canadians are continuously without work and many more are underemployed and without benefits. Many Occupations – One Class! The Challenge of the Energy Sector Workers. Solidarity and one for all and all for one are not slogans selectively applied. Communists speak in the interests of all workers irrespective of where they are compelled to sell their labour power. That is why CPS calls upon the 37th convention to re‐visit and re‐discuss its demand to close down the Alberta tar sands and review its entire stance on the problems confronting the energy sector workers. The use of the dubious and sweeping description of the energy sector of the west as tar sands is inaccurate on many counts. What is happening across western Canada in the extraction, processing and transport of bitumen, heavy and light crude, natural gas sour and sweet and all of its by‐products and all of a variety of methods that are used to extract it need careful study and an approach that is less heavy on emotion and more focused on class partisanship. The numbers of Canadian workers, men and women, now employed in the mining and processing of bitumen, the extraction of oil in Bakken play in south east Saskatchewan and the fracking processes underway to retrieve oil and gas deposits in Northern BC are large and growing. The entire sector is expanding rapidly and is poorly understood by the CPC. Thus far, the CPC has limited its policies to raising the demand of nationalization of energy resources, which it was late in placing before the working class and is still without much elaboration of what that demand, in practice actually means. What is so disappointing is that of all of the political parties claiming to speak for workers, the Communist Party historically is the party with a legacy of having pioneered and publicly campaigned for people’s energy policy. That history includes: • Attention to the energy needs of the country for its future planned economic development;
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• • • • • • • • • • • • Policies that laid down the principle of energy self‐sufficiency; Policies that elaborated principles to ensure that the export of surpluses did not jeopardize energy self‐sufficiency; Policies that promoted east‐west development of pipelines and hydro electric power grids; Policies that ensured the energy needs for eastern Canada were supplied by western Canadian energy resources; Policies that assured the energy needs for northern development; Policies that protected fresh water supplies; Policies that keep energy consumer prices to workers, communities, public infrastructure low; Policies that assured low cost energy for further industrial and manufacturing development; Policies that protected public control over hydro electric utilities; Programs for non‐monopoly development of western Canada; Policies that protected Canada from US continental water diversion plans; Policies for nationalization and public ownership of all energy development based on the needs of Canadians and based on advanced science and technology.
The Convention must self critically confront the fact that the CPC has abandoned its independent line on energy development for Canada and has accepted uncritically non‐Marxist theories of energy development and the environment. That abandonment is revealed in its simplistic acceptance and promotion of the slogan to shut down the Alberta tar sands. In all of its reporting on the matter, the party tails well intentioned environmentalists to evade its responsibility to consider carefully the full implication of the slogan to shut down the tar sands and the consequences of that slogan for the workers who sell their labour in the energy sector. Moreover the CPC is less than thorough in presenting the dilemma of First Nations people who on the one hand justifiably demand respect for their land claims and traditional way of life as pipelines threaten the environment and on the other hand have just as rightfully raised the demand in the Idle No More Movement for a bigger share in the development of the resources underway on those lands. The CPC is poorly informed about the numbers of Aboriginal youth who now derive their living from resource sector jobs. Communists do not join in the petty bourgeois nihilism that in a cavalier fashion proposes the shutting down of entire sections of the capitalist economy. Nor do we hand over to any other class, corporate or petty bourgeois movement, however earnest, the responsibility we have as Marxists to work out a consistently principled working class program for all and in particular to do it in consultation with the workers and communities directly involved.
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It is important to say that the energy sector workers of western Canada are not indifferent to the environmental issues and know in some detail what the effects on the environment are of the anarchic way that private capital destroys nature. As an example and we have mentioned this before, the Alberta Federation of Labour in cooperation with environmentalists at the University of Alberta have done some credible work on proposals to protect jobs and mitigate CO2 and other environmental damage. Their proposals include but are not confined to the complete processing of bitumen in Canada to the refined stage of oil and it’s by products, east west extension of pipelines to serve the needs of eastern Canada and strict environmental standards to be imposed on corporate polluters. Likewise the soon to be merged CAW/CEP have made statements that indicate a serious attempt to uphold both jobs and the social responsibility trade unionists have for the environment. The CPC will be negligent in its responsibilities to the working class if it fails to accord at least as much attention to what organized labour is saying about environmental issues as main stream environmentalism. There is no indication that we can see that the CPC either knows or studies such work in depth. If the CPC persists in calling for shutting down the energy sector in Alberta it must go to the working class of western and eastern Canada and the unions that represent these workers and defend such a proposal. That means going to all of the workers involved in the energy sector which include not only those in Alberta Saskatchewan and BC but the eastern Canadian workers from Thunder Bay to the east coast who are the producers of pipe, pumps, industrial motors, the transportation workers involved in transporting goods and services to the western Canadian oil and gas industry, the skilled trades and all those compelled to move west from the Maritimes to survive and explain why the CPC calls for shutting down their livelihood. If the CPC has a winning program it is called upon to go to the workers in Fort McMurray, refinery row in Edmonton and Fort Saskatchewan, the piping and pressure vessel fabrication shops of Red Deer, Calgary, Regina and Saskatoon and seek their opinion first about what the CPC proposes they do for a living when the tar sands are shut down. We have said this before and we repeat it again to make a point, why doesn’t the CPC advocate shutting down the auto sector of eastern Canada since combustion engines are one of the principal sources of CO2 emissions. Clearly a much more nuanced and developed program is required that mobilizes all of the proposals that will gain the support of all of the progressive anti‐monopoly forces involved and will win science to the side of the working class and the working class to side of science. That is not done by raising the slogan of nationalization and then leaving it at that. The development of the productive forces of capitalism today is anarchic, contradictory and as Engels warned long ago in his work The Dialectics of Nature that human activity can so alter the environment such that it may become uninhabitable. Engels did not say however, that it was inevitable and it would
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happen and the struggle for socialism should be suspended in the interim. Quite the opposite, Marx and Engels and Lenin argued strenuously that to bring humans and nature into full harmony it is up to the revolutionary parties of the working class, possessed of the consciousness provided by dialectical and historical materialism to struggle for the triumph of science in all realms, and in the first place politics. Capitalism cannot do that. That truth regardless of how few articulate it doesn’t cease to be the truth. Communists are not nihilists and oppose the destruction of the economy and fight for its preservation so it may exist and be perfected further by socialism. It is beyond further comment that any economy today, capitalist or socialist can exist at this time in history without all of the principal forms of energy, fossil fuel, nuclear, hydro electric, biomass, wind and solar. The evolution of these sources towards its combination that reduces fossil fuel carbon emissions, and creates the solutions that preserve the planet is a capitalist contradiction. It can be pointed to and even raised to the highest possible level of political struggle, that may even result in some important advances even as capitalism exists, but we would be deceiving the working class and ourselves if we failed to point out that it is a capitalist contradiction that cannot be finally resolved without overthrowing the system that creates it. Science everyday provides us with elegant solutions to global warming and such solutions are not implemented because the present relations of production and the underlying law of capitalism, maximum profit prevents its implementation because science is in the service of monopoly and not the people. Only socialism places the people at the service of science and science at the service of the people. The contractions created by the relative decline of the industrial and manufacturing sectors of Canadian capitalism accompanied by anarchic development of other sectors, the resource sector in particular, is due to the fact that capital moves to where it generates maximum profit, without regard to the consequences. Capitalism in its present stage is not only anarchic it is self destructive, deliberately destroying and abandoning entire sectors of the economy that do not realize maximum profit. Profiteers have discovered that in some instances more profit can be made from the destruction of productive enterprise than investing in its creation. The method of financial oligarchic takeover of viable Canadian industry by foreign capital in collusion with Canadian banks and investors, the ensuing break up and sell‐off of assets, theft of pension funds and failure to compensate for lost wages followed by brazen capital flight with windfall profits for corporate executives is well known to Canadian workers. The threat of it happening again and again is a major intimidating tool in the hands of investors and employers to depress wages and exact compliance from workers when hours of work are illegally extended and when violations of established safety and work standards occur. Energy sector workers in western Canada are familiar with boom and bust development in the oil and gas sector, of both suspension of capital investment, capital flight and capital influx. Energy sector
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workers in increasing numbers expect work to be a constant process of feast and famine. Now the sector confronts an influx of foreign contract labour at all levels including engineering, scientific, technological and skilled‐trades competition for jobs. 8 It is exasperating to energy sector workers confronting such realities when concern for ducks killed in tailing ponds is elevated by the media to a matter of national attention but the ongoing deaths of construction, rig workers, mining personnel and support staff goes unreported. In the past it was enough to say there is “blood on the coal” to know what was meant. Well there is a lot of blood in the bitumen and the highway between Edmonton and Fort Mac and the CPC of all parties should know about it. CPS in spite of any critical comments herein extends its comradely best wishes to all of the delegates assembled and any guests from fraternal parties that may be in attendance. The Convention can be a routine event or it can mark a turn to the working class and fulfill the legacy of its founders and all those who through the years fought for communism as for life. Comradely Don Currie
Energy sector workers have reported to CPS that there are plans afoot to build barracks like accommodations on site for a mass influx of foreign workers accompanying big foreign investments in Alberta. CPS takes the view that this explains some of the changes in the federal government’s immigration rules regarding foreign part time contract labour in Canada.
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