Unite and fight for jobs, democracy, sovereignty, equality and socialism!
We celebrate May Day 2017 in the shadow of the Trump war machine which has moved the whole planet into extreme danger of extinction due to nuclear war and/or climate change. According to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, it took just 100 days in office for the Trump administration to move the Doomsday Clock to 2 and a half minutes to midnight. The world hasn’t been this close to Doomsday since 1953, at the height of the Cold War when the US openly campaigned for war with the USSR. Is this the end of history that capitalism’s triumphant spokesman Fukuyama proclaimed in the 1990s?
For the last 25 years, capitalism has had the upper hand, and the ability to demonstrate its self-proclaimed ‘superiority’. Its enormous wealth and capacity could have been put to the service of the world’s exploited and impoverished billions with health care, education, jobs, development, peace and disarmament, and action to reduce the effects of climate change. In fact this is socialist Cuba’s contribution over the past 25 years, despite the US embargo.
But capitalism did what capitalism always does – seek out new places and new ways to exploit and to profit from the misery of the many, for the benefit of the richest corporations and the wealthiest few. This is the nature and the purpose of capitalism: the exploitation of one human being and one class by another, for the private profit and benefit of the ruling class at the expense of the working people, the youth, women, immigrants, Indigenous Peoples. It is incapable of addressing the needs of the people, or the needs of the planet, because its purpose is to ruthlessly exploit both.
As a result austerity has been introduced across the capitalist world, and wages, pensions and living standards have fallen in all the advanced capitalist countries, including in Europe and North America, while unemployment – and the growth of the ultra-right and its policies of xenophobia, racism, and misogyny – has surged. In the developing countries, hunger, debt, dependence, and capitalist globalization, and threats of invasion and ‘regime change’ are the reality of capitalism’s self-proclaimed ‘superiority’ over national sovereignty, independence and socialism.
We see the outcome of this dictatorship of the most powerful corporations in the US today: the ultra-right in control of the White House, the Congress and Senate, and the judiciary. With an agenda to match: corporate tax cuts, deregulation, free-trade benefiting the most powerful US corporations, militarization funded by massive cuts to social security, and war with the two-pronged objective of leveling all resistance to US corporate power and profits inside and outside the US borders. This means war on the labour and peoples’ movements at home, war and subjugation on nations and states around the world, and war on the planet itself.
This is an agenda of global destruction that the Canadian government should strongly oppose.
But the Liberals have tiptoed around the Trump administration, supporting illegal US airstrikes on Syria and Afghanistan, threats to invade and overthrow the DPRK (North Korea), and any country that resists the US global corporate agenda. The Liberals have promised to double Canada’s military budget in order to pay NATO 2% of GDP as demanded by Trump, or in lieu of payment, to send Canadian troops wherever Trump decides to make war next.
And, instead of pulling out of NAFTA and exposing the US administration’s reactionary and job-destroying agenda on trade, the Liberals are supporting a renegotiation of NAFTA that will wreak havoc on Canadian jobs, manufacturing and agriculture, on resource development, on universal public Medicare, on labour and democratic rights, on sovereignty and independence. This is the moment when Trudeau should have said NO.
NO to NAFTA – NO to war
Canada is at a crossroads. In one direction, the Liberals’ team-up with the Trump administration will escalate Canada’s complete integration into the US war economy and politics. This would mean Canada would lose its manufacturing and industrial sector and revert to a source of natural resources and a market for US value-added goods and services. We will see a further drop in wages, pensions and living standards, where even minimum wages are not guaranteed. We will also lose Medicare and universal social programs, our labour, civil, social and democratic rights, along with what remains of our sovereignty and independence. In return, we become a completely integrated part of the US war machine, spending $40 billion a year on war (and rising).
For corporate Canada and their political parties this may seem like a good way to go. For working people it’s a fast-forward freeway to disaster.
It’s deeply regrettable that the NDP and Greens both support US airstrikes on Syria and renegotiation of NAFTA, while also claiming to represent the interests of working people.
It’s also disturbing that the outgoing CLC leadership has taken the same position, when NAFTA was widely panned and opposed as the corporate agenda on steroids.
In 1988, just a few months of campaigning by a broad-based coalition of labour and the democratic people’s movements nearly derailed the first free trade deal between Canada and the US. This powerful movement against capitalist globalization succeeded in derailing both the MAI and the FTAA, and came close to blocking NAFTA.
Similarly, massive anti-war and anti-globalization protests took place around the globe during the same period, mobilizing public opinion against nuclear weapons, and for political solutions to global problems.
The Women’s March of 5 million women globally including 200,000 women in Canada, along with the struggles of Black Lives Matter, Idle No More, and mobilizations for climate justice, show the way forward today.
The struggle of the youth and minimum wage workers to win $15 and Fairness, and the response of the labour movement in Quebec to make $15 a universal bargaining demand, is the way forward. The response of some unions in BC and Ontario to make $15 a basic bargaining demand, and to win it after striking on it, is the way forward. It’s a political and economic fight that the CLC should adopt at its May convention.
The fight to pull out of NAFTA and adopt a trade policy that’s multi-lateral and mutually beneficial, creating value-added jobs, building sustainable primary and secondary industry and manufacturing, will need the CLC to bring the labour movement and its allies into the streets, to oppose capitalist corporate globalization supported by both Trump and the Big Business parties in Canada.
Mass mobilizations are also needed to get Canada out of NATO, to bring Canadian troops home, and to adopt a foreign policy of peace and disarmament.
Workers in Canada can show their solidarity and support for workers’ struggles globally by standing shoulder to shoulder in opposition to austerity and war, capitalist globalization, Islamophobia, racism, xenophobia, misogyny, homophobia and transphobia, reaction and fascism. They can stand with Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Palestine, and all those countries in Latin America, Asia and Africa fighting for their right to self-determination and independence from US interference, including those who choose a socialist path of development.
Working people, youth, women, the unemployed and labour must use their united might to oppose compromise with US war-mongers and the reactionary, fascist-supported administration of Trump’s government of oilmen, generals and bankers.
A People’s Agenda for Canada
Labour and its partners must unite and fight for a People’s Agenda for Canada, organizing mass mobilizations to campaign for:
- Fair trade, not NAFTA – multi-lateral trade with all countries that is beneficial to all parties, and includes long term credits for developing and socialist countries;
- A foreign policy of peace and disarmament – Get out of NATO and NORAD, Cut military spending by 75%, bring home Canadian troops involved in foreign wars;
- Fight Climate Change – nationalize natural and energy resources; close the tar sands and guarantee jobs in public development of new energy sources such as solar, wind, thermal, and renewable energy;
- Create Jobs – invest in a national housing program to build affordable social housing across Canada; invest in value-added manufacturing, including a Canadian car and urban and inter-urban mass rapid transit; agricultural implements industry; machine tool industry; ship-building; expand social programs;
- Raise wages and incomes – raise the minimum wage to $20; substantially increase pensions and drop the age for a full pension and OAS to 60; introduce a guaranteed annual income at a living wage; increase EI to 90% of former earnings and expand to cover all job seekers including part-time and first-time job seekers Enact universal pay and employment equity; repeal the Temporary Foreign Workers Act;
- Expand immigration and refugee acceptance and re-settlement; scrap the Canada-US Safe Third Country Agreement;
- Expand universal social programs and Medicare, and introduce a system of universally accessible, affordable, quality public childcare;
- Eliminate tuition fees and make post-secondary education accessible to all;
- Protect and expand civil, social, labour and democratic rights. Enforce and enact anti-hate laws.
Another world is possible – and urgent!
In this centenary year of the victory of the Great October Revolution, which opened the door to socialism and workers’ power around the world, we recall the historic struggle of the working class in Russia to create a society free of exploitation and oppression, a society of equality and justice, where working people were in the driver’s seat and corporations, greedy landowners and landlords were put out of business, and war-mongers and profiteers sent packing. With 100 years of both heroic and painful experience of war and fascism, and the overthrow of the socialist states in Europe, we know that socialism represents the future, and capitalism is the past. There is no other rung on the ladder of human development between capitalism and socialism. The time has come – is overdue – for working people to take control of our own destiny, to establish working class political power.
In the struggles ahead, working people will build socialism anew, learning from the experiences of the past and building for the future. The struggle continues, more urgent than ever.