Our 38th Central Convention meets at a moment of escalating danger, from increasing war, environmental crisis and economic decay. As the systemic crisis of capitalism continues to deepen, and the effects of the 2008 economic meltdown continue to be felt, imperialist states and organizations are becoming increasingly aggressive. The standoff between nuclear armed states in Ukraine and the expanding war in Syria are powderkegs that threaten disaster. Millions upon millions of people in all parts of the world are being forced into poverty, hunger, homelessness and displacement.
But this is also a moment of rising working class and popular resistance. In all countries, albeit unevenly and with different characteristics, we see increased unity and mobilization. From online campaigns to mass demonstrations, general strikes, and political actions, people are using many different vehicles to advance these struggles. This is also expressed by the rising popularity of so-called democratic socialism, with all its contradictions, which is examined in detail in this report.
In Canada, the electoral defeat of the Conservatives in October 2015 represents a significant victory for the working class, Indigenous peoples, racialized communities, women, LGBTiQ communities, youth and students. While the victory of the Liberal party does not represent a break from the reactionary policies that are characteristic of the Canadian state, through a united, conscious political and organizational struggle we can open new space and possibilities in the fight for peace and disarmament, for immediate action to combat climate change, and for social equity and social justice. These advances can be realized – and can become concrete steps toward more fundamental change.
Imperialism, war and the fight for peace
Internationally, the most immediate danger and challenge facing the working class and peoples of the world is imperialism’s escalating militarism and drive to war. From the state of “permanent war” since 2001, to the coup in Ukraine and the resulting standoff between NATO and Russia, to the escalating and expanding war in Syria, to the renewed arms race and nuclear weapons development, imperialism’s aggressiveness has increased to the point that the survival of the entire planet is threatened.
Since the counter-revolution in the Soviet Union, NATO has aggressively expanded its membership and theatre of operations. It currently has 28 member states across North America and Europe, another 22 countries engaged through the EuroAtlantic Partnership Council, and a further 19 countries partnered through programs such as the Mediterranean Dialogue, the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative or the Partners Across the Globe Initiative.
This growth is directly linked with the eastward expansion of the EU, a dynamic that has provoked one of the most serious political crises in decades — the US-orchestrated fascist coup d’état in Ukraine in February 2014.
Ukraine’s new illegitimate, puppet government of Petro Poroshenko includes several neo-Nazi followers of Stepan Bandera, the leader of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and infamous war criminal who colluded with the Nazis during their bloody occupation of Ukraine. The regime moved quickly to attack and repress communists and progressives in Ukraine, including banning the Communist Party of Ukraine. It is a bitter irony that these events occurred during the 70th anniversary of the victory over Nazi fascism in World War II.
Our Party reiterates its unwavering solidarity with the Communist Party of Ukraine, and all democratic and progressive forces in the country. We condemn the violent and coordinated wave of anti-communist repression, and repeat our call for the Canadian government to publicly disassociate itself from and end its support for these repressive, fascist actions and groups. Furthermore, our Party reiterates it demand for the full and immediate withdrawal of Canadian military and support personnel from Ukraine and elsewhere in Eastern Europe.
The Kiev regime quickly applied for NATO membership and called on NATO to actively assist its brutal assault against the country’s Russian-speaking minority. This community is fighting for regional autonomy to protect their linguistic and other national rights against the ultra-nationalist regime. They have received assistance from Russia, whose people are deeply concerned by the twin dangers of NATO encirclement and the resurgence of fascism in Europe.
Popular resistance against the Kiev coup included the referendum in Crimea, in which an overwhelming majority of people voted to rejoin Russia, and have since joined the Russian Federation. NATO and allied governments and media distorted this development and described it as an annexation by Russia – a shocking double standard in recognizing referendums, given their immediate recognition of Kosovo as an independent state in 2008 – although Russian interests are clearly at play, as the Crimea is home to a number of significant merchant ports.
The other key arena of imperialist aggression is the crisis in Syria. Now in its fifth year, the war there has claimed 240,000 lives and displaced millions of Syrian people.
Imperialism has suffered a serious setback where it has, to date, been unable to overthrow the elected government of Bashar al-Assad. This despite recruiting, arming and training thousands of foreign mercenaries who have continued to terrorize the Syrian people. Imperialist efforts to impose regime change continue however under yet another pretext for direct intervention in Syria – “the war on Islamic State.”
As US and EU imperialisms, the Zionist Israeli state and reactionary Gulf kingdoms attempt to impose their “New Middle East” plan – to produce a patchwork of weak and fragmented Arab states who cannot challenge Israeli expansion or imperialist domination – they have produced a breeding ground for reactionary religious forces that they have, in turn, armed and financed. Despite distress – real or feigned – over brutal methods and reactionary politics, groups like Islamic State and al-Nusrah are valuable assets to imperialism and their activities have provided the pretext for direct military intervention in Syria.
Zionist Israel continues to be one of the principal actors in enforcing imperialist policies in the Middle East. It influences and hardens imperialist policies of the US and EU against the people of all countries, including their own, and recklessly endangers world peace through its murderous policies and expansions in occupied territories, its support of terrorist groups, and its aggression against Syria and other neighboring countries. At the same time, we should recognize courageous opposition in Israel of anti-Zionists is developing, including civilians and ex- and current defense force members, and outside Israel, in justice, peace and anti-Zionist movements
The US-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria – which include Canadian jets – were coupled with renewed material and organizational support to anti-government groups in Syria. Despite pledging, one day after being elected, to withdraw Canadian fighter jets, Justin Trudeau has actually increased the number of airstrikes and stated that Canada will increase its ground troop presence among anti-government militias.
In response to this escalated aggression, the Syrian government formed an alliance with Iran and Russia to militarily defeat Islamic State and al-Nusrah. Very soon after this development the tide began to turn in Syria’s favour, with the government winning back key areas of the country and maintaining a strong majority of popular support.
Russia’s active role in this conflict has helped blunt the imperialist spear, and this has been met by an even more frenzied Cold War response. This propaganda aims to demonize Russia and justify US-NATO aggression – we need to confront it forcefully and refocus attention back on the actions and goals of the imperialist camp. But it is important to note that Russia is not the Soviet Union – it is a capitalist state, not a socialist one, and although its role in Syria is producing positive results we need to maintain a critical analysis of Russia’s objectives.
The immediate situation in Syria remains extremely volatile. The concentration of global military power, and the competition between powerful centres for control of energy resources, pipelines, spheres of influence and access to new markets, is creating an explosive situation that threatens a regional or even world war. Our Party repeats its demand for the immediate withdrawal of all Canadian and imperialist forces and mercenaries from Syria and the region. Canada must also give full support to efforts to reach a diplomatic solution to the conflict, with the full involvement of the elected Bashar al-Assad government, and support demands for an immediate cessation of all foreign military, political and economic interference and aggression in both Syria and neighbouring Iraq. We express our solidarity with the Syrian people struggling to defend their sovereignty and territorial integrity, and to end the ‘civil’ war without outside involvement, interference, or dictates.
Despite the grave danger presented by the international confrontations in Ukraine and Syria – between nuclear weapons states – the peace movements in Canada and around the world have been slow and inconsistent in their response. In no small part, this weakness is the result of the aggressive campaign to promote a “war on terror” as a justification for militarism. This pretext has been used to confuse people and neutralize opposition, and also to attack democratic rights in countries all over the world, including in Canada. Furthermore, many recent imperialist aggressions have been framed as “humanitarian interventions” justified under the “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine which, for example, purportedly seek to liberate women or ethnic minorities from oppression, or peoples from a “brutal dictator”. Such pro-war propaganda, particularly when combined with Islamophobia, weakens the clearcut basis for mobilization and unity. Another key factor is the “renewed Cold War” propaganda campaign which, similar to the “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine, aims to ideologically soften people and provide a pretext for intervention, aggression and war.
American imperialism is renewing its threats to Chinese sovereignty at every opportunity, challenging the central foreign policy goal of the Chinese government. These renewed attacks are part of a long series of imperialist interventions in China. Further imperialist interventions could become a central world conflict.
US imperialism and U.S. warships have absolutely no legitimate role in resolving the conflict over borders in the South China Sea.
Imperialism has become increasingly uneasy about China’s rise and China’s increasingly powerful industries. The Trans-Pacific Partnership is an attempt to isolate China and limit the ability of Chinese publicly controlled industries to compete against monopoly capitalist industries in the advanced capitalist world. Concerted efforts by imperialism are being made to limit investment by publicly controlled industries and reduce China to the low level of investment and growth as in the advanced capitalist countries. Increasing attempts by imperialism to undermine China are a key feature of our time. While the future remains uncertain, the potential for conflict with imperialism over these issues should not be discounted. The Communist Party of Canada defends China’s right to develop its public sector industries and opposes any attempt to undermine legitimate Chinese sovereignty over its own territory.
In June 2015, the Central Committee noted the dangers of the renewed Cold War: “Already, it is being used to justify increased military spending, expanded arms trade, new and larger imperialist military alliances, and outright intervention and war. It has become a large part of the ideological barrage that justifies and promotes the expansion of imperialist institutions like NATO and the EU. Part of the New Cold War is the ideological poison that depicts communism and fascism as identical totalitarian ideologies.”
In Canada, this ideological assault has contributed to the fragmented response from the peace and peace-supporting movements. This weakness may be compounded by the Trudeau Liberals’ efforts to court some elements of the labour movement. The defeat of the Tory government – who provided an obvious focal point for anti-war activism – is an important change, but it is critical that the peace movement maintain and build its activity. The Communist Party and anti-imperialist groups such as the Canadian Peace Congress have worked to draw attention to the imperialist countries as the main provocateurs and benefiters of interventions, aggressions and wars like the crises in Ukraine and Syria, and to promote the urgent necessity of mobilizing against these actions.
Our Party commits to redoubling our efforts to unite and activate the peace movement, both through independent Party activity and through progressive groups like the Peace Congress. We support the World Peace Council call for global demonstrations against NATO during the Warsaw Summit in July 2016, and will assist with mobilizations across Canada.
Since our 37th Central Convention in 2013, global military spending has remained at its highest levels in history – nearly $1.8 trillion USD in 2014. The United States accounts for $610 billion, or 34% of the world total.
Notably, military spending by NATO member states accounts for $920 billion USD, or 51% of the global figure. While military spending receded very slightly in the main imperialist centres at NATO’s core – Western Europe, the US and Canada – there were large increases throughout the current key theatres of NATO aggression: the Asia-Pacific region, the Middle East and Eastern Europe.
NATO member states, including Canada, have faced increased pressure in the recent period to increase their military spending. Under the Conservative government, Canada’s official military budget increased from $14.5 billion in 2006 to $20.1 billion in 2014-15 – up 38%. The Tories also boosted the automatic annual increases for military spending from 2% to 3% starting in 2017. According to the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, a powerful right-wing think-tank, this latter move will add almost $12 billion over the next 10 years – this figure suggests that the “defence escalator” applies to a wider range of spending than the official military budget. On top of this, the Tories launched a massive procurement campaign, the centrepiece of which was the $36.6 billion naval shipbuilding program and the proposed $30 billion purchase of 65 F-35 fighter jets.
The Liberals campaigned during the 2015 federal election campaign to maintain current military spending levels and planned increases, a promise they kept in the federal budget albeit on a differed basis. While the Liberals claimed that they would cancel the F-35 purchase, redirecting the money to war ships, these fighter jets are likely being retained. In addition, although the Liberals stated that they were bound by the Conservative government’s $15 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia, it was revealed that the Liberal party in fact approved this deal following their election.
An urgent task for all peace and progressive organizations in Canada is to build mass pressure that can force the Liberals to reduce military spending and trade, allow war resisters to remain in Canada, and completely withdraw Canada from the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria. These are initial, but concrete, steps toward a new foreign policy of peace, and toward building the international working class unity that can defeat war, reaction and imperialism.
Of increasing concern is the issue of nuclear weapons. Much media attention is focused on the nuclear programs of Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. In June 2015, our Central Executive Committee cautiously welcomed the interim nuclear deal, the Joint Plan of Action between Iran and the P5+1 countries (US, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany), noting that it was a small step in a positive direction on the issue of peace in the Middle East. However, the CEC also warned that the deal avoids many of the underlying issues that have contributed to insecurity, conflict and war in the region. Since then, the US has reinstated a number of sanctions against the Iranian people. The real and immediate danger is the continuing nuclear weapons development and proliferation by the US and its NATO allies.
As the US shifts its focus away from ballistic missiles and toward “smart” nuclear weapons like the B61-12 bomb, it is also developing a multi-national NW delivery system that is based on the F-35 fighter. This, combined with the overwhelming mass destructive capacity of imperialism’s conventional military organizations, compels countries like Russia, China, DPRK and others to rely on nuclear weapons as their only deterrent. The US “Pivot to Asia” – which has military, political and diplomatic aspects – is an aggressive attempt to assert control in the Asia Pacific region, and only serves to exacerbate this standoff.
These developments warrant more study and analysis. In the immediate term, it is crucial that we help build the anti-nuclear weapons movement in Canada and iterate the need for disarmament by imperialist forces. Our Party reiterates its call for nuclear weapons abolition and connects that with the need for general disarmament, starting with the imperialist militaries. This work provides concrete opportunities to forge stronger alliances between peace and environmental organizations.
Environmental crisis and the working class
A second key feature of the current international situation is the deepening global environmental crisis. In all countries, the working class and people experience the symptoms of rapidly approaching environmental disaster B carbon emissions, global warming and climate change, food scarcities, deforestation, toxic water and lands, fracking-related earthquakes, threats to biodiversity, melting polar ice caps and sea level changes. Tens of millions of refugees and migrants – the highest numbers since the Second World War – are fleeing ecological crises and armed conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Ukraine, sub-Saharan Africa and other areas.
Capitalists have even turned the environmental destruction of capitalism into a new market by convincing people that their individual actions can reverse environmental destruction and climate change. They have done so with false rhetoric about ‘buying green’ or in the case where capital has benefitted from the construction of a carbon market for trading pollution credits. Attempting to limit policy on climate change to promoting green products, such as hybrid vehicles or fluorescent light bulbs, implies blame on individual consumers rather than on corporate polluters. The dangerous effect of these capitalist solutions is that they are a considerable distraction from the real problems of capitalist accumulation and unplanned and unfettered growth.
One of the major problems with regards to capitalism and the environment is that the price of polluting others is an external cost for corporations. Capitalists are not accountable to the residents of the communities they pollute but to themselves and to their shareholders. They view environmental regulations and protections as extra costs and threats to their profitability. Corporations are more interested in hiding their environmental destruction by investing money into marketing campaigns that sell idealized images of themselves rather than making real changes to their environmental practices. Once they have exhausted the resources of one community they simply move on to a new exploitable and profitable area. Furthermore, capitalists are not confined to live in the areas they pollute because they can afford to live in communities outside of polluted areas. Ultimately, the cost of environmental destruction is pushed back onto the working class.
Tar Sands production is an example of how people and nature are sacrificed in the name of profit in Canada. Strip and in-situ mining operations have led to the complete destruction of sections of Alberta’s boreal forests. Production and refining processes have also led to the pollution and drainage of fresh water resources such as the Athabasca River. Down river from tar sands production areas, local communities, mostly First Nations, are experiencing rare and elevated cancer levels. This has led to the erosion of First Nations sovereignty as the state fails to protect First Nations traditional grounds. These communities have become so polluted that hunting and fishing have become impossible – no longer can these communities depend on living in a clean environment free of harmful toxins and environmental degradation.
The 2015 COP21 Climate Change Conference in Paris was a focal point for world attention and hope that climate change would be reduced through mutual action of the states of the world. The outcome was disappointing – no legally binding emissions limits; no commitments from developed countries to adequately fund mitigation (reducing greenhouse gas emissions by renewable energy and halting deforestation) or adaptation (preparing for future climate change by improving infrastructure and techniques); no legal liability for developed countries to pay for loss and damage; no full inclusion of human rights, particularly those of Indigenous peoples; and no protection from investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) challenges, which undermine climate actions (policies, regulations, legislation) that would impact future corporate profits.
At the same time, while trade trumped action at the COP21 table, action trumped legislation on the streets of Paris. In defiance of bans on public demonstrations and a state of emergency, thousands of protesters gathered to demand a halt to climate change. These rallies were matched by more than 2500 demonstrations worldwide, including 45,000 people in Sydney, Australia, 50,000 in London, England and 25,000 at the 100% Possible March in Ottawa.
The COP21 conference demonstrates two realities of climate change and the overall environmental crisis. On the one hand, corporations and imperialist governments are consistently working to undermine action for environmental security and sustainability, because they realize it is a barrier to maximizing profit and power. On the other hand, the working class and peoples of the world increasingly recognize that this corporate agenda is incompatible with their interests, and they are prepared to mobilize for climate justice, in growing numbers, on a worldwide scale.
In Canada, the Tories assumed an outright aggressive view toward the environmental movement. This was especially true with respect to the tar sands and pipelines developments domestically, and mining interests internationally. The Tories’ notorious, and repeated, statements that anti-pipeline and anti-tar sands activists posed security and terrorist threats reveals the depth of the contradiction between the corporate drive for profit and environmental sustainability. We remember that the Liberal party expressed the same sentiments in voting for Bill C-51.
Before and during the 2015 election, Justin Trudeau responded to pressures from indigenous and community opponents of the tar sands and pipeline projects by condemning the Northern Gateway pipeline project and calling for a ban on oil tanker traffic along the west coast. But he never called for an end to tar sands extraction, and since the election, the Liberals have revealed their objective to expand the export of unprocessed hydrocarbons. There is no substantive interest in sovereignty or a nation-to-nation relationship, as evidenced by backtracking on the election promise that First Nations communities would have veto power over natural resource projects on their territories. It is very clear that he intends to ignore the Indigenous right to self-determination and supports continued development. The capitalist parties – the Conservatives, Liberals, NDP, and even the Green Party – are united in their support for environmental destruction. They all support the Energy East pipeline. Our Party will continue to support the Indigenous and environmental organizations – including the Idle No More movement and the Council of Canadians – who have been mobilizing against these destructive projects. Furthermore, we will step up our efforts to promote the urgent need for public ownership and democratic control of energy resources and industries, by updating our People’s Energy Plan for Canada, which includes the call for a publicly owned and democratically controlled oil, gas and fuel retailer.
The communist movement has not always placed the environment as one of its central issues, but the revolutionary working class analysis of the environment has continued to develop since the earliest days of the communist movement. In 1876, Frederick Engels wrote: “With every day that passes we are acquiring a better understanding of these laws [of nature] and getting to perceive both the more immediate and the more remote consequences of our interference with the traditional course of nature. In particular, after the mighty advances made by the natural sciences in the present century, we are more than ever in a position to realise, and hence to control, also the more remote natural consequences of at least our day-to-day production activities.”
As the global environmental crisis continues to deepen, humanity is increasingly faced with a stark choice. We can continue with the current socio-economic system that jeopardizes the environment in its pursuit of profit. Or, we can switch course to a new system that rejects the logic of capitalist accumulation and militarism, and instead promotes equitable and sustainable development that is in balance with the environment. This recalls Rosa Luxemburg’s urgent call to action, that the only futures available are socialism or barbarism.
The struggle for environmental sustainability is urgent and building. It is interconnected with the fight against imperialist militarism and war. Coming out of this convention, our Party commits to engaging and building this struggle in Canada, and projecting a transformative, socialist perspective into the environmentalist movement.
Global economic crisis
Both of the features analyzed above – escalating imperialist aggression and the environmental crisis – are rooted in the ongoing systemic crisis of capitalism. As the dominant imperialist centres scramble to preserve and advance their individual interests at one another’s expense, they move to divide and re-divide the world in a desperate and dangerous rush for profits, resources and markets. Included in this mad frenzy is the drive to vastly increase the military and corporate presence in the Arctic.
Economic growth in the US and EU remained very slow between the global meltdown of 2008 and 2014. While the Gross Domestic Products of some EU countries (most notably Germany) recovered to their pre-meltdown levels, both the EU as a whole and Eurozone remained lower than 2008. The US GDP recovered beyond its 2008 level, but its share of the Gross World Product declined from 25.2% in 2007 to 22.4% in 2014. The EU share of GWP fell even more, from 30.7% in 2007 to 23.8% in 2014.
In contrast, nearly all of the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) experienced strong growth in their GDP and GWP share between 2008 and 2014, the exceptions being Russia and South Africa. China led the way during that period, with a GDP that more than doubled and a GWP share that increased from 6.1% in 2007 to 13.3% in 2014. The combined GWP of the BRICS increased from 13.5% in 2007 to 21.8% in 2014.
Since 2014 the economic advances of China and the BRICS have lessened, particularly as world prices for oil and minerals have plummeted. The EU remains the world’s largest trading bloc with the US still the largest economy in the world. But it is very clear that a change in the correlation of global forces has occurred. Related to this, while there is still a strong consensus between the imperialist states on many issues and tactics (such as the aggressions against Yugoslavia, Libya, Syria and others), inter-imperialist rivalry between the US and the EU has begun to sharpen. In particular, the recent public differences between the US and Germany over the Greek financial crisis and the conflict in Ukraine, as well as the impact that the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) will have on US-EU relations, are concrete developments that suggest sharpening tensions.
The TPP is one of several imperialist counter-measures to the shift in relative global economic strength, including the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), as well as increased military and diplomatic efforts to encircle Russia and China. TPP comprises 12 states representing 40% of GWP and has been called the biggest trade deal in history. It warrants further discussion and analysis in our Party, but it is immediately notable for two reasons: (a) it excludes all of Europe, and (b) it excludes China. By negotiating this deal ahead of the TTIP with Europe, the US has gained a sizeable trump card in the sense that TPP will likely serve as a US-friendly template for future trade deals. Furthermore, the EU can expect to experience painful trade diversion, as the countries covered by the TPP accounted for nearly one-third of EU exports in 2010.
China will feel even greater pressure: it is estimated to lose $47 billion in income and $57 billion in export revenue annually through its exclusion from TPP. Such losses would seriously weaken the BRICS group generally, which could also undermine the economies of several other Latin American and African countries. The TPP trade deal could be viewed as the economic component to the US “Pivot to Asia.”
In terms of the BRICS group itself, assessing its current character and role requires constant study and discussion. As our Central Committee concluded in June 2015, “Clearly, it would be quite wrong to draw facile parallels between the class, internationalist role that the former Soviet Union and the socialist community of states played through much of the past century, and the BRICS states of today. The BRICS cooperate around shared interests, but this group is not a stable, much less a coherent anti-imperialist, alliance. They operate within and largely accommodate themselves to the dynamics of global capitalism, even if some take positions on certain international issues which overlap with the stance of the peace and anti-imperialist forces around the world. At the same time however, it would be equally wrong to dismiss the BRICS as a just another rival, imperialist formation. BRICS policies and actions that help to inhibit the aggressive agenda of imperialism should be welcomed; BRICS policies and actions which undermine international peace and security and/or run counter to the interests of the working class and oppressed peoples (including the working class and peoples of their own countries) should be criticized and resisted.”
The CETA trade deal, between Canada and the EU, goes far beyond the disastrous NAFTA deal of 1994. Issues that the public believed to be untouchable – water, healthcare and public procurement – are all wide open to corporate intrusion and commercialization. The deal will allow corporations far greater access to postsecondary education, and will threaten the integrity of research programs by allowing corporations to sue students who whistleblow unethical research practices. By allowing transnational corporations to challenge building permits and zoning bylaws, CETA will hinder or even prevent democratically elected governments from creating social housing. Furthermore, CETA will attack Indigenous peoples’ treaty rights, sovereignty and self-determination by allowing corporations sweeping access to their lands, territories and water.
These deals include “Investor-State Dispute Settlement” mechanisms, which have allowed corporations to win multi-million dollar lawsuits for loss of profits against the governments of Canada and Québec. Whether CETA, TTIP or TPP, the biggest losers in all of these capitalist trade deals are the working classes and peoples of the countries involved. This group – the vast majority of the world’s population, and the ones who produce all of the world’s wealth – continue to suffer the effects of capitalist crisis and, often, severe austerity measures. This is precisely why there has been such strong and growing resistance, in every country, involving a broad unity of sectors – workers and unions, Indigenous peoples, immigrant communities, women’s movements, faith groups, environmentalists, youth and students, academics, seniors and retirees and many others.
Both CETA and the TPP are yet to be fully ratified in Canada. The Liberal government has indicated its support for both deals, and any improvements it is willing to negotiate will be utterly cosmetic. There is an urgent need to pressure the federal government, as well as provincial and municipal governments, to reject both of these deals. Public consultations on the terms and impacts of the deals are vital. Given the Liberal government’s efforts to court the acquiescence of the labour leadership, it is important to engage local union leaders and members in the fight against these destructive corporate trade deals.
Following the economic meltdown in 2008 capitalist governments worldwide proceeded to implement and intensify pro-austerity, anti-labour measures that have failed to kindle economic growth and stability. Instead, these policies have deepened and expanded poverty, widened the marginalization of masses of people, escalated unemployment, increased hunger and malnutrition, and provoked ever higher suicide rates.
At the same time, these policies have tended to accelerate the concentration and centralization of capital, to the point that the richest 1% of the world’s population have now accumulated more wealth than the rest of the world put together. According to Oxfam, the wealth of the world’s richest 62 people increased by 44% between 2010 and 2015, to $1.76 trillion. This is the same wealth as the 3.6 billion people in the bottom half of humanity, whose wealth fell by over $1 trillion in the same period.
Recently, bourgeois political and economic discussions have begun to reveal differences over the scope and pace of austerity measures. This has been provoked by the upsurge in increasingly radical anti-austerity movements, as well as by the failure of these policies to stabilize economies, and it highlights the very real difficulties that capitalism is facing with low growth and stagnation. Some sections of international capital are developing neo-Keynesian approaches, which combine increased government stimulus spending with softened austerity measures to maintain social order, while proceeding with key elements of neo-liberalism, such as privatization. To different extents, such approaches are being taken in the US and Australia.
In Canada, the Liberal Party, the Alberta NDP and the Ontario Liberals reflect aspects of this approach, achieving majority governments on platforms that swapped some of the harshest austerity measures for increased infrastructure spending and a promise to halt public sector layoffs. At the same time, however, the governments in Québec, BC, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland & Labrador are rejecting this approach and continue to implement harsh austerity measures.
These neo-Keynesian approaches are a move away from severe austerity measures, but they are insufficient and inadequate solutions to the capitalist crisis. Neo-Keynesianism constitutes a futile attempt to ‘regulate’ and preserve capitalist relations; it cannot resolve the basic contradictions of the system. As our South African comrades pointed out at the most recent International Meeting (17th IMCWP): “Capitalism is in crisis – our task is not to save capitalism from its crisis, but to save humanity and the planet from capitalism.” At the same time, our Party understands that the main danger continues to be austerity policies themselves, whether promoted by right-wing conservatives or centrist social democrats, and we will continue to work for working class unity against these policies in any form.
In a number of areas of the, the national question is becoming a sharper and more immediate issue for the working class and peoples. This is a complex matter that warrants specific study in each situation, but it is connected with the effects of the economic crisis, imperialist aggression and environmental degradation.
A significant recent development in the area of nationality relations is the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The declaration is an historic victory for indigenous nations and national minorities, who have long fought for the right to exist and preserve the traditional practices inherent in their identity, and who have sometimes adopted the banner of the “fourth-world,” as stateless, poor, and marginal nations. Violence; forced eviction or relocation; denial of the rights to lands, territories and resources; forced assimilation; as well as immediate pressure from climate change, all constitute a reality of genocide for indigenous communities in many parts of the world. The United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand were the only countries to vote against the Declaration in 2007 and while the Trudeau Liberals have now approved UNDRIP, it remains to be seen how far they will go in the implementation process. Our Party supports the full implementation of UNDRIP at all levels of government in Canada.
In many developing countries of the world, nationality problems that were never redressed after de-colonization are now becoming further antagonized with the active support of imperialism. At the same time, other long-standing anti-imperialist struggles against national oppression continue, unresolved. For example, the 2013 French intervention, supported by the Canadian Air Force, in northern Mali was allied with the Tuareg National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad. While military opponents of the French and Azawadi’s, the Islamic fundamentalist forces such as Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and the Ansar Dine group are objectively facilitating the fragmentation of Mali’s vast territory, a country larger than Ontario. All this is taking place on the backdrop of regional destabilization of Libya as well as desertification. Yet Western Sahara still remains occupied by Morocco, their hopes of sovereignty still dashed by US and French interests in West Africa.
Another example is that of the so-called Kurdish resistance forces in Syria and Iraq, including the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, who endorse the idea of the new “Greater Middle East.” Already, at our last Convention, we noted that “a new Kurdish ‘mini-state’” had been “slice and diced” out of northern Iraq, and warned, “a similar fate could befall […] Syria.” Today, Canadian troops in Iraq are operating under the Kurdish flag in the war against Islamic State. Both the Kurdish separatists and the Islamic fundamentalists are objectively breaking up the borders of Syria and Iraq. To be sure, this further exposes the contradictions of the colonial Sykes–Picot framework. But meanwhile, Palestine remains under Israeli occupation. Our Party condemns imperialism’s agenda of fragmentation, which has nothing in common with resolving the national question in a democratic way in line with the demands of the people.
Despite the perception that the most stable states are the advanced capitalist economies, national contradictions are also sharpening here. In Europe, the so-called autonomist and nationalist parties have been steadily gaining popularity in many regions. For example, the Scottish National Party in Britain and the Catalan nationalist movement in Spain have both organized referendums in recent years, while the civil nationalist New Flemish Alliance is currently a major player in the broad right-wing governing coalition in Belgium. On the one hand, national-based grievances have been deepening in the context of the economic crisis of capitalism, as these national questions have never been resolved. On the other hand, while these movements and parties have populist demands or even leftist rhetoric, they also support deeply reactionary policies such as continued membership in NATO and the European Union. Their “Europe of Regions” comes at a cost – strong social programmes and public state-level ownership, won through class struggle.
In response to deepening misery and widening social disparity, labour and popular resistance continues to grow. In Europe, where the austerity agenda has been most harshly implemented, strikes and protests have continued in Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and many other countries. In India, the trade union movements have mobilized massive one-day strikes against the neoliberal policies of the reactionary BJP government.
Resistance has grown elsewhere, including in North America. The Québec Common Front, the fast food workers campaign and the $15/minimum wage demands in the US and Canada are among many examples of rising militancy and mobilization around wages, privatization and social programs.
In many cases Communist parties have played an important, and sometimes central, role in building mass anti-austerity movements. This speaks to the importance of the international communist movement.
Growth of Reaction, Fascism and Sectarianism
As crisis conditions worsen mass fear and insecurity spread, causing the working class and peoples to search more desperately for alternatives. In some cases, large sections of the people have become susceptible to reactionary ideologies and organizations.
This alarming trend includes the growth of narrow nationalism, racism and xenophobia; ultra-right and neo-fascist movements and parties; Islamophobic and anti-migrant sentiment, legislation and actions; religious extremism; backlash against equality gains by women, racialized communities and LGBTIQ people; and terrorism.
In some countries and regions, reactionary groups and ideas are beginning to occupy key political space. This is particularly evident in Ukraine, Libya, parts of Western Europe and the United States, areas in the Middle East, and India.
Whether it is the National Front in France, the Trump presidential campaign in the US, Islamic State in the Middle East, the New Constitution Party in Toronto, Pegida in Germany, Golden Dawn in Greece, the FPÖ in Austria, or Modi’s BJP in India, these movements need to be understood as a dangerous tool of imperialism. They are used to weaken and divide the working class and popular forces, to undermine democratic, social and labour rights, to blunt class consciousness, and to attack the left and revolutionary forces.
At the same time, however, working class and peoples’ resistance to reactionary movements is growing, along with specifically anti-fascist, anti-capitalist and socialist ideas. Our Party will increase its activity in the fight against reactionary and fascist politics, both in Canada and internationally.
Our Party is convinced that the struggle to achieve full social equality rights for LGBTiQ people and communities is an integral component of the wider global movement to advance human rights. These rights must include strong legal protections of sexual orientation and gender identity, the right to claim refugee status by people facing homophobic and transphobic threats, state recognition of same-sex marriages and partnerships, and equal legal status for all families, including the rights to raise and adopt children. We reject any argument which aims to restrict the legal definition of family to those based on male-female biological parental relationships. The revolutionary working class struggle aims to create a socialist society which guarantees full employment, housing, health care, education, child care, cultural programs, etc., providing the material and social conditions for all families to flourish without discrimination or economic coercion. Socialist family law, as we say in our Program, “will remove the patriarchal concept of privilege for the heterosexual nuclear family, and instead fully recognize the variety of family forms and sexual orientations.”
International solidarity with peoples in struggle
In all areas of the globe, people are actively resisting the imperialist offensive and building movements that are increasingly capable of projecting radical, alternative demands. This 38th Central Convention stands in solidarity with these struggles.
In Europe, we salute the escalating mobilizations against austerity and the EU, particularly by the working class in Greece, Portugal, Spain and Ireland. We also note the rising fight against the resurgence of fascism, particularly in Ukraine, France, Britain and Germany.
In Asia, we continue to condemn the US Pivot to Asia, and all efforts to encircle and intimidate China, Russia and DPRK. We support the working class and Communist Party of Japan, in their struggle against resurgent Japanese militarism, and the ongoing struggle of the Korean people for reunification and peace. We condemn the illegal, undeclared blockade of Nepal by India, and call for all countries to respect the sovereignty of the Nepali people as they develop a secular Federal Democratic Republic.
In the Middle East, our party extends its solidarity to all of the working class and people, who are resisting imperialism’s New Middle East plan. Specifically, we salute the people of Syria in their heroic struggle against imperialist aggression and war. We continue to stand with the working class of Iran in its ongoing fight for sovereignty, social and political progress, and labour and democratic rights. We condemn the killing of more than 6200 Yemenis, mostly civilians, by the Saudi-led coalition of 9 Arab and African countries. This coalition has the active support and assistance of NATO and NATO member states, including Canada. The Yemeni people alone have the right to determine their future. This aggression is a crime against a sovereign state, and we demand that the coalition members and their supporters be condemned criminals of war. The Kurdish people face escalating attacks, as the crisis in Syria and Iraq continues. Our Party particularly condemns the efforts of the Turkish government to use the “war on Islamic State” as a pretext to increase attacks on Kurdish people and organizations in Syria and Turkey.
The people of Palestine continue to defy the might of Israeli aggression, in their ongoing fight for national liberation. Our Party reiterates its longstanding support for the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination. We support the growing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, that exposes and opposes Israeli apartheid. We also support all the political forces fighting for peace and freedom in Palestine, which are gathered around the PLO, as well as the Communist Party of Israel, and its peace Front Hadash.
Debates continue over the proposed solutions to the Palestine-Israel conflict – specifically over a one-state versus a two-state approach. Our Party confirms its longstanding support for the demand of the majority of the Palestinians, for an independent, viable and contiguous Palestinian state, based on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital, and with full right of return for Palestinians driven out during the 1947-48 Nakba and later. However, in our view, the most pressing task is to maintain and build the unity of the movement in solidarity with Palestine, and to confront and defeat any attempt to use the one- versus two-state debate to fracture or weaken the movement.
Latin America has been, for many years, the one region where imperialism was placed on the defensive. The expansion of democratic and social gains that was inspired and supported by the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela has been a critical vehicle for nurturing and solidifying anti-imperialist initiatives and institutions.
The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has spearheaded several progressive initiatives in the region in order to reclaim the political dream of the unified Latin America of Liberator Simon Bolivar, and the vision of independence and sovereignty of José Martí. For instance, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) is the response to imperialist-style trade agreements based on the ideology of the social, political and economic integration of the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean where solidarity is the ethical principle.
Other important organizations that have been the collective inspiration of Latin America are, among others, the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) that aims at “consolidating South America as a Zone of Peace and Cooperation”; and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) that in 2014 declared Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, and committed to “observe the principles of national sovereignty, equal rights and self-determination of peoples”. Our Party shares those same goals for peace and sovereignty in the region and will support them in full solidarity.
The impact of the Venezuelan parliamentary election in December 2015 require further study, but the defeat of the Bolivarian candidates is a serious setback for the country and the region. Two key factors came into play in the election — the loss of oil revenue due to low oil prices, and economic sabotage by the Venezuelan oligarchs with the support of foreign governments. As the situation continues to develop, our Party maintains its unwavering solidarity with the working class in Venezuela and its vanguard, the Communist Party of Venezuela, as well as the anti-imperialist stand of the government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
Despite some setbacks, the progressive movements are very firm in Latin America as observed in Nicaragua, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Brazil, Peru and Uruguay. Other Latin American countries have rising popular movements that are inclusive of a stronger role for Indigenous peoples. However, the interventionist aspirations of the United States remain a constant threat to sovereignty and self-determination in the region. Our Party continues its steadfast solidarity with truly popular and progressive movements in Latin America that challenge the imperialist hegemony and local ruling elites.
Our party reaffirms its long-standing solidarity with socialist Cuba, with its people and with its Revolution. Since the 1990 victory of counter-revolution in the USSR and Eastern Europe, and in the teeth of extremely hostile conditions, Cuba has resisted – to protect its sovereignty and independence, and to develop itself according to the model chosen by its people. Cuba has also played a major role in reinvigorating the world-wide communist and anti-imperialist movement, which has won many victories for the peoples of Latin America and elsewhere.
Today, Cuba faces several challenges. Its people have won a major victory in their fight against attempts to isolate their country, especially by the United States. We welcomed the historic agreement between Cuba and the US, in December 2014, that released the remaining Cuban 5 and set the stage for normalized relations. We salute the courageous resistance of the 5 – Gerardo Hernandez, Antonio Gurerro, Ramon Labanino, Fernando Gonzalez, Rene Gonzalez and their families and condemn the US who held them hostage for so many years. However, Obama has made it clear that US objectives as regards Cuba have not changed, albeit by different means. In response, the Cubans have been equally clear: if relations with the US are to be truly normalized, its dealings with Cuba must be on an equal to equal footing. The US must end the blockade, compensate Cuba for the damage it has inflicted for more than half a century, and return Guantanamo the Guantanamo Bay territory illegally occupied by the US Naval Base for 103 years to the Cuban people. Our Party commits itself to mobilize around these demands.
In Colombia, the Santos government has purposely delayed the progress of peace talks. Our Party demands the Colombian government negotiate an end to the 51 year-long civil war, release all political prisoners, and agree to genuine land reform and other democratic demands of the Colombian people. We salute the massive and sustained popular mobilization for peace and social justice, La Marcha Patriotica. We express our continued solidarity with the FARC-EP and the Communist Party of Colombia.
The election of a right-wing leader in Argentina and the impeachment of the President of Brazil are examples of an increasingly aggressive US policy of intervention and imposed regime change throughout Latin America. This policy is reflective of US imperialism’s response to the global economic downturn and the general crisis of capitalism. These developments also shine a light on the impact that corporate media control has on social and political movements. Argentina’s President Macri has been linked with offshore tax evasion that has ignited opposition forces on the left, and Brazil’s President Rousseff has strong support from the majority of the working class. However, neither of these realities are reported in the daily corporate-dominated media, which continues to parrot right-wing, pro-coup lies and distortions.
In Uruguay, progressive legislation has been passed that improve women’s lives. Advances include access to abortion, recognition and support for legalization of same sex marriage, and LGBTiQ rights including access to medical resources needed for the transition process. In addition, Uruguay has instituted free post-secondary education and renewables provide 94.5% of the country’s electricity. The Communist Party of Uruguay continues to play a strong role in the Frente Amplio, which has been in power since 2004.
The recent assassination of Berta Caceres in Honduras, and other environmental activists in Latin America signal the continued danger which Indigenous people experience. Foreign-owned companies, including Canadian ones seeking to extract minerals and natural resources, are directly complicit along with government officials who intentionally refuse to offer protection to individuals who face death threats and intimidation. Our party calls for an independent investigation into Berta’s death and the end of impunity to these killings.
Montréal-based Gildan Activewear is one of the largest blank T-shirt makers in the world as well as being the second largest employer next to the state in Haiti. Most of Gildan’s work was subcontracted to Andy Apaid, who led the Group 184 domestic “civil society” that opposed Aristide’s government. Group 184 was instrumental in keeping down domestic wages to the lowest in the hemisphere.
Throughout Latin America, we note the continued emergence of a stronger role of Indigenous peoples in challenging imperialist hegemony and local ruling elites.
Africa continues to be a growing focal point for imperialist intervention. Under the pretexts of Responsibility to Protect and the restoration of order, both the US and France have increased their military presence on the continent. This effort flows directly from the drive to re-colonize Africa and exploit its agricultural, oil and mineral wealth.
Africa continues to be a growing focal point for imperialist intervention. Under the pretexts of Responsibility to Protect and the restoration of order, both the US and its European allies have increased their military presence on the continent. The US military is actively engaged in military operations in at least 49 of the 54 countries in Africa, training proxies and conducting secret special operations. At least 4,000 US troops are permanently stationed at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, the largest permanent US military base in Africa and home to AFRICOM. From here, drones take off and land around the clock, and orders to find, track or kill are increasingly executed.
France, Germany, Italy, Britain, and even Japan have also increased their military activities on the continent. There are more than 3,000 French troops spread across the Sahel, in Mali, Chad, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, the Central African Republic, Djibouti, Niger, Gabon, and elsewhere. Germany, Britain, Italy, the European Union, and other Western countries all have troops engaged in military operations throughout the continent, while 300 Japanese troops are stationed in Djibouti for ‘anti-piracy’ operations. While not a major player, Canada’s military presence in Africa continues to develop, particularly in the context of mining corporations’ drive to secure access and control to the continent’s mineral wealth.
Western-led military interventions in Africa have caused untold suffering and destruction. In Libya, the country’s oil wealth has been ransacked by sectarian and extremist militias who were allied with the US and NATO in 2011, many of whom now support Islamic State. Preparations for a second intervention in Libya, this time to defeat Islamic State, are underway, with 1,000 British troops already deployed to take back control of the country’s oil fields. The destabilization of Libya spread into northern Mali, where France, with support from Canada, Britain, and Germany, launched a full-scale invasion to defeat Islamist forces and ensure a stable, compliant regime. In the resource rich Central African Republic, France’s support for the Seleka coalition, one of several militias involved in the civil war in Central African Republic, has stoked a brutal sectarian conflict that has left thousands dead and 25% of the country’s population displaced. France earlier supported François Bozizé’s regime against Seleka in the Bush War of 2004-07, but Bozize’s signing of resource exploration contracts with China made him an enemy of French imperialism. Since the overthrow of Bozize in 2013 by Seleka a brutal sectarian war between Christians and Muslims has been enflamed by foreign troops.
The increase in Western military activities in Africa flows directly from the drive to re-colonize Africa and exploit its agricultural, oil and mineral wealth. It is also a strategic move to counter the growing political and economic influence on the continent of China and South Africa.
In South Africa, our Party salutes the people, the Communist Party and the African National Congress as they continue the National Democratic Revolution. Despite attacks from the right and the left, the SACP remains steadfast as the mass vanguard party of the working class. Our Party commits to strengthening solidarity with these organizations among the Canadian working class, and will fight all attempts – both from the sectarian left and the racist and pro-apartheid right B to undermine support for the SACP and for the consolidation of the NDR.
The United States will have a presidential election this year, and there are already signs that this will be one of the most polarizing campaigns in recent memory. The rise of Donald Trump’s racist, misogynist and hawkish candidacy is a very dangerous development that will have lingering effects, regardless of the election outcome. At the same time, the support for Bernie Sanders’ campaign demonstrates an increase in anti-capitalist and even socialist sentiment in the US. As racist violence increases, including police shootings and beatings of African Americans, powerful resistance movements are emerging, such as the Black Lives Matter campaign. Our Party extends its solidarity to these struggles.
75% of the world’s mining companies are headquartered in Canada. Mining companies found their home in Canada because the Toronto Stock Exchange’s listing and disclosure requirements are extremely lax, which allow the companies to manipulate estimates of resources and reserves. The reach of Canadian mining companies is far and wide, extending from Asia to Africa, Latin America to Europe. In Africa, where our bourgeoisie protest Chinese investment, Canada not China exploits and dominates African mining.
Furthermore, mining companies enjoy the Canadian government’s support in their financial endeavours. In Burkina Faso, for example, where Blaise Compaore was removed from power through popular protest, Canada and Burkina Faso’s interim government signed a 16-year contract which stipulates that any breach of the contract will allow such mining companies as Vancouver-based True Gold Mining and Montréal-based Semafo to sue the government. In effect, any elected government to follow is bound to the decision of a government intended as a temporary arrangement. The government of Canada protects private interests.
Mining companies intimidate other countries and violate the charter of human rights, which imperialist countries supposedly uphold, with impunity. In one illustrative case, Vancouver-based Pacific Rim is suing El Salvador for $315 million, a country with a GDP of $23 billion. Canada’s GDP is $1.7 trillion, almost 75 times larger than El Salvador’s.
Mining companies hire what are, in effect, their own private police force. Based out of the Toronto-Dominion Canada Trust Tower, Barrick Gold entrusted the protection of their gold mine in Papua New Guinea to a security force who are responsible for fatal shootings, hundreds of rapes, gang rapes, and beatings of indigenous women – all at the site. Barrick Gold offered compensation to the victims, on the condition that they sign their name to not legally sue the company. There is no evidence that Canada has conducted an investigation into the matter.
A strong, united international communist movement
Since the 37th Convention, our Party has continued to participate in the International Meetings of Communist and Workers Parties (IMCWP), the main forum of the international communist movement.
As the class struggle has sharpened differently around the world, communist parties have taken different approaches to building the movement. Now, in a period of the deepening systemic crisis of capitalism, of proliferating imperialist aggression and war, and destruction of the global environment, it is more urgent than ever for the communist movement internationally to speak out with a clear and powerful voice for the alternative of socialism. It is equally important for our parties to elevate the level of our common action — there are far more points around which parties agree than disagree.
The international democratic organizations – the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU), World Federation of Democratic Youth (WFDY), World Peace Council (WPC) and Women’s International Democratic Federation (WIDF) – continue to grow and mobilize. Our Party reiterates its support for these organizations internationally and commits to building and strengthening their presence in Canada, wherever possible.
Next year is the 100th anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution. This event galvanized working class attention the world over, and sparked the formation of our Party.
The centenary will be an opportunity to celebrate the struggles of the working class, of the achievements of socialism in the USSR and elsewhere, and to rededicate ourselves to the cause of revolution. It will also be a time to defend our movement against detractors – from both the right and the left – who claim the October Revolution was an elitist coup, or that it distorted into a dictatorial, repressive system. Preparations for the centenary should include promoting a deeper understanding of the history, strengths and weaknesses of real, existing socialism in the Soviet Union.
As we prepare to mark the 100th anniversary, our Party will do so in the firm conviction that this is still the epoch of transition from capitalism to socialism. The workers of all lands still have a world to win!