The news that the Canadian Labour Congress has stripped Vice-President Donald Lafleur of his duties and put him on administrative leave raises many troubling questions. This action runs counter to the urgent need for labour to adopt a more militant fightback strategy, to strengthen the role of trade unions in the struggles for peace and international solidarity, and to promote a more democratic and inclusive leadership style, from the top levels of the CLC down to the provincial federations, labour councils, and union locals.
The Central Executive Committee of the Communist Party of Canada joins with other progressive activists calling for the reinstatement of Brother Donald Lafleur to his elected position in the CLC leadership. Despite the vicious media attacks and lies in recent days, Lafleur attended the Third International Trade Union Forum in Solidarity with Syrian Workers at his own expense, during his vacation time, and he did not address this forum or claim to be representing the CLC.
To his credit, Brother Lafleur took the courageous step of attending this conference in Damascus, “to listen and learn.” Convened to build opposition to imperialist intervention and economic sanctions, the event was organized by Syria’s General Federation of Trade Unions (GFTU), in cooperation with the International Confederation of Arab Trade Unions (ICATU) and World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU). Other participating bodies included the Arab Labor Organization (ALO), the Organization of African Trade Union Unity (OATUU), and several national labour organizations from various countries.
We note that since 2011, the war and sanctions have caused over $90 billion USD in damages and losses to Syria. More than 9000 Syrian workers have been killed by terrorist attacks, with another 14000 wounded and 3000 kidnapped. The Trade Union Forum agreed to develop a worldwide solidarity campaign to confront those governments and organizations that support terrorism and sanctions against Syria and the Syrian people.
The McCarthyist attacks against Donald Lafleur in Canada’s mainstream media began almost immediately. CBC News and Postmedia’s bitterly reactionary Terry Glavin falsely claimed that the forum was “organized by the Assad regime,” and both condemned the forum’s call for an end to the deadly sanctions against Syria.
By throwing Donald Lafleur under the bus and repeating the media attacks against the elected government of Syria, the CLC leadership has indicated its clear support for the imperialist aggression aimed at forcing “regime change.” As we have seen in other countries in the region, this would not lead to democracy and social justice – it only opens the door for terrorist organizations to seize control. We urge labour activists to reject the CLC’s statements which closely reflect the US-NATO storyline, and to call on the Congress to change course – reinstate Brother Donald Lafleur, and begin building true solidarity with the trade unions and working class of Syria.
Central Executive Committee, Communist Party of Canada