A wildcat strike by prison guards shook Alberta, paralyzing the prison system and quickly escalating. The government’s response to the complaints of workers in the prison system only provoked anger; the suspension of two employees for raising safety complaints provoked the incoming evening shift to refuse to turn up. Later, the government’s intention to seek a court-ordered return to work spread the strike to the 10 correctional facilities across the province. Soon after the order was issued, sheriffs at courthouses across Alberta joined the strike, and some crown prosecutors walked out as well.

One of the most disgraceful aspects of Canadian labour policy has come under the spotlight after Canadian banking giant RBC recently sacked 45 workers within their information technology (IT) division, outsourcing those jobs to lower-waged workers from India.  What was supposed to be a minor shuffling of jobs has, instead, become a raging scandal that has exposed how far the capitalist class is willing to go to undermine workers’ wages and rights — and all of it openly supported by the federal government.

With the watering down of the federal NDP constitution the party has taken a step to the right at its Montreal convention. This step mirrors similar developments within the social-democratic labour parties internationally, and is a tragic irony given the ongoing crisis of capitalism. However, disappointing as it is, the removal of a constitutional preamble that nobody had ever read does not fundamentally change the character of the NDP. Because of the crisis, mass movements are inevitable; these in turn will have their reflection in the mass organizations.

The Constitution Committee of the federal NDP has proposed a rewrite of the preamble to the party’s constitution. The new wording is supposedly a compromise, after the right-wing of the party was defeated in 2011 when it tried to remove all references to socialism. However, this new amendment is no compromise at all and marks a significant turn to the right. “Socialism” is relegated to the past in a tokenistic fashion. Most notably, sections on social ownership are removed and replaced with the primacy of the market. This is a bitter irony, precisely when “the market” is showing its abject failure globally, and in Canada. Removal of the defence of social ownership also opens up the party to supporting the privatization of public services. Delegates must reject this rightward shift.

Canadian politics is evolving against a backdrop of a continued global economic crisis: Europe is in turmoil, the USA is yet to recover, and there are significant weaknesses at home with high consumer debt and the possibility of the bursting of the housing bubble. In response to this failure of capitalist recovery, the federal Conservative government has embarked on a policy of austerity cuts and attacks upon organized workers. In this article Alex Grant outlines the choices for that the New Democratic Party is faced with ahead of its national convention in Montreal.

In the past couple of weeks, hundreds of innocent people have been rounded up by the Montreal police, despite the fact that these individuals committed no crimes. It is very clear that this is only the latest attempt by the state to frighten ordinary workers and youth from demonstrating opposition to the ruling class’ agenda. But, in doing so, they are playing a very dangerous game and risk destroying the veil that is bourgeois democracy.

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Revolution 2018 - a three-day festival of Marxist ideas
Revolution 2018 is a three-day festival of Marxist ideas, hosted by Socialist Appeal, In Defence...
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