Canada

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

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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.

Over 70 people crammed into the Yellow Griffin Pub in Toronto’s west end to celebrate the life of Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez.  The fact that so many people came out on a few hours’ notice demonstrates the effect that Chávez and the Bolivarian revolution have on the lives of people around the world.

Thousands of protesters took part in demonstrations across the country on Dec. 21 under the banner of Idle No More, a grassroots movement dedicated to protecting the environment and Aboriginal treaty rights against new federal legislation. First Nations activists and their supporters mobilized nationwide, with the largest protest on Parliament Hill drawing more than 2,000 people. Solidarity rallies took place around the world — from New Zealand to Los Angeles to the United Kingdom. Some activists also started blocking key roads and railways. In the span of a few weeks, Idle No More has become the most significant social movement in Canada since #Occupy and the Quebec student strike.

Over the past year, there has been an unprecedented interest amongst students across Canada in the fight against rocketing tuition fees. The major factor that has contributed to this growing political awakening among students, other than the unprecedented cost of education and student debt, has been the magnificent example set by the students in Quebec who were able to beat back tuition hikes, resist the attempt by the courts and the cops to repress their movement, and bring down the hated Liberal government of Jean Charest.

Last week the newly elected Parti Québécois government tabled their first budget since taking power. Finance minister Nicolas Marceau vowed to “balance the books” and “cut spending” in what is a clear austerity budget; new expenditures are being increased by the lowest amount in 14 years and almost no new money has been allocated to education spending. The government is also promising to pass a zero-deficit budget for 2013/14. Within an extremely short period since being elected, the PQ has now shown their true colours as a party subservient to Quebec big business, in line with the general austerity plan of the recently ousted Liberal Party.

Every day, new figures and stories come out describing Europe’s decay into virtual anarchy.  Once known for providing its workers with a relatively stable standard of living, one European country after another is pushed into crisis and austerity, provoking social explosions across the continent.  New reports from several leading financial institutions reveal that the European contagion is rapidly spreading across the Atlantic and threatening to overwhelm Canada’s own shaky situation.

A bleak future awaits today's youth as they are being forced to bear the brunt of the capitalist crisis despite having had nothing to do with its creation. Youth are facing challenges today that are unprecedented in history and they are living less stable and secure lives than previous generations. Indeed, youth today will likely never be able to afford the standard of living that their parents and grandparents were able to achieve; owning a home or vehicle is out of the question for a growing percentage of youth entering their adult lives. While record amounts of wealth is being accumulated in private hands, and billions of public dollars are being handed out for bailouts and tax cuts

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For seven long months, Quebec students waged a valiant battle on the streets against the Liberal government’s tuition hikes and undemocratic laws. Former premier Jean Charest called the election as a referendum on who runs society — was it the students and the “street”, or was it the government and the so-called “silent majority”? The results of this election show a complete rejection of the Liberal agenda and in many ways, represents a real victory for the student movement.

As this article is being written, defeated strike votes from Quebec’s universities and colleges are rolling in. The push to block the start of classes, imposed by the Liberal government, appears to be failing. Most of the strike votes have failed with a large majority voting to return to class. The movement is faltering as students are grudgingly voting to end the strike. However, while grim, all is not yet lost. This is a decisive turning point for the movement and it is vital that we learn the lessons going forward.

In the fall of 2008, as the financial crisis was just starting to impact the United States, the Harper government was lauding Canadian banks as the “soundest in the world.” This was to become a well-rehearsed and well-worn talking point for government and corporate mouthpieces throughout the duration of the 2008-10 recession. However, a recent study released by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) reveals a staunchly different picture. Massive government bailouts were doled out to the country's largest banks to the tune of $114-billion of public money being pumped into the financial institutions.

Over the past month, thousands of students across Canada have joined in massive displays of solidarity with the Quebec student movement.  This solidarity movement has not been limited to just students; it has also included the participation of trade unionists, young workers, teachers, and parents.  It has even caught the imagination of residents and onlookers who have joined in the casserole-inspired demonstrations marching through neighbourhoods in Toronto and other cities. There has been at least ten solidarity demonstrations organized in Toronto alone over the past six weeks. The largest of these demonstrations had 3,000 people marching on a single evening.

As part of their agenda of austerity and attacks on working-class people, the Conservative government is attempting to bring in major “reforms” to Canada’s system of immigration. During the last federal election campaign, Stephen Harper and his minister of immigration, Jason Kenney, tried hard to woo ethnic communities’ support to the Conservatives.  But now that the elections are over for a while, the Tories feel safe in attacking these same communities as part of the general war against workers.