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Against the tide: André Frappier’s journey as a class-struggle militant

 

 

Introduction by Richard Fidler

February 26, 2021 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Life on the Left — I first met André Frappier in the late 1970s, when we were members of the Revolutionary Workers League/Ligue ouvrière révolutionnaire, a pan-Canadian Marxist cadre organization. When the league decided to hoist its banner in the 1980 federal election campaign, André — already well-known as a union militant — was chosen as our candidate in a downtown Montréal riding. (No, he was not elected!)

Along with many others, André and I parted company with the RWL/LOR soon afterward. For André, this was by no means the end of his political activism, quite the contrary, as this recent interview by Pierre Beaudet shows. It is published in the current issue of Nouveaux Cahiers du socialisme, no. 25, winter 2021, under the title “À contre-courant : André Frappier, toujours présent,” also published as a separate text on the NCS webpage.

My translation, along with a few supplementary notes and this introduction.

* * *

Remembering Leo Panitch

 

 

By Richard Fidler

February 12, 2021 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Life on the Left — I first met Leo personally in 1984. Articling with a progressive law firm in Toronto, I found that Leo was my contact for arranging the visit of Ralph Miliband as guest speaker at the annual Law Union conference. Miliband’s presentation was well received, and following the meeting Leo suggested the three of us should repair to the pub to which other conference participants had adjourned.

I remember telling Miliband that I had read several of his books but that my favourite was still his first, Parliamentary Socialism, A Study in the Politics of Labour. He laughed and said “It’s mine too.” Published in 1961, it began famously with the statement: “Of political parties claiming socialism to be their aim, the [British] Labour Party has always been one of the most dogmatic — not about socialism, but about the parliamentary system.” I was in 1962 a member of the provincial council of the recently-founded Ontario New Democratic Party, and had found Miliband’s analysis of the BLP of immense help in understanding the disturbing features of the NDP that I was encountering.

Canada: New Year calls for a new COVID-19 strategy

 

 

By David Camfield and Claudyne Chevrier

January 29, 2021 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Socialist Project — As 2021 begins, many people in Manitoba are hopeful that the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic is behind us. The number of infections reported is falling. Effective vaccines have been approved and will eventually become widely available. Unfortunately, the pandemic is far from over and the worst could still lie ahead.

Manitoba, like most jurisdictions in Canada except the Atlantic provinces and Northern territories, is using a public-health strategy for responding to COVID-19 that hasn’t given us the protection and positive outcomes that we could have expected. This strategy – one of mitigation, to use the epidemiological term – has aimed to keep the virus from spreading so much that sick people overwhelm the hospital system.

50 years ago: When Canada suspended civil liberties

 

 

By John Riddell 

October 31, 2020 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from John Riddell's Marxist essays and commentary — It was October 16, 1970, fifty years ago today. Turning on CBC radio over breakfast that day, I was startled to learn that the War Measures Act had been decreed across the entire country. The Canadian equivalent of martial law, War Measures were invoked on the excuse that the country faced an “apprehended insurrection.”

During that night, hundreds in Quebec had been arrested. Secretly. No charges. No phone call. No right to a lawyer or court hearing. All civil liberties were suspended. Quebec was under military occupation. A few hours later, television news started showing photos of soldiers in battledress armed with assault rifles and of tanks in the streets of downtown Montreal.

Canada: Quebec’s October Crisis 1970 – What today’s left learned from Ottawa’s turn to repression

 

 

By Richard Fidler

October 31, 2020 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Life on the Left — Fifty years ago this month the federal government, invoking the War Measures Act – its first use in peacetime – occupied Quebec with 12,000 troops, arrested without a warrant almost 500 citizens, and carried out 36,000 police searches of homes, organizations and publications.

Of the 497 trade unionists, artists, lawyers and left activists jailed, 435 were subsequently freed without charges, and 44 of the 62 charged were acquitted or had their prosecutions stayed. But October 1970 marked a turning point in the federalist response to Quebec’s “Quiet Revolution” and the rapidly growing popular mobilization in favour of making Quebec an independent state.

Take the plant, save the planet (PDF pamphlet)

 

 

By Socialist Interventions

March 26, 2020 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Socialist Project — On November 26, 2018, General Motors announced a number of plant closures in North America, the largest of which was in Oshawa, Ontario. The Oshawa facility, once the largest auto complex on the continent, was to end all its assembly operations by the end of 2019.

The issue is not simply a matter of bringing the environmental movement and the labour movement together; each must be transformed if the sum is to be more than the currently limited parts. The environmental movement must raise itself to a new level by concretely engaging the working class and the labour movement must escape what for it has become an existential crisis. The threats and opportunities of the environmental crisis offer a chance for labour revival, but only if this incorporates a renewed approach to organizing, struggle, radical politics, and the maximization of informed membership participation.

Canada: Fight against COVID-19 should focus on most vulnerable, including First Nations

 

 

By Karl Nerenberg

March 12, 2020 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Rabble — Health-care experts and public health officials are expressing a high degree of concern over the potential impact of the COVID-19 virus on poor and vulnerable populations.

From the onset of this disease, the rich have made sure to take care of themselves, as the New York Times reported last week. Those for whom money is not an object are using private jets rather than commercial flights, vacationing in remote and isolated tropical paradises, stocking up on costly designer masks, and signing up for concierge medical services (or, as the Times calls them, "VIP emergency rooms"). 

The picture for poor and marginalised communities is the opposite. 

Canada: After the federal election - the dangers and challenges that lie ahead

 

 

By Pierre Beaudet and Richard Fidler
 
November 9, 2019 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Life on the Left — It is still early to interpret fully the results of Canada’s October 21 federal election. But behind the immediate results some trends are clear. 

Holding pattern: The 2019 Canadian election

 

 

By Andrea Levy

 

November 9, 2019 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Rosa Luxemburg Foundation — In the parlance of the horse-race terminology favoured by election commentators, the 2019 Canadian Elections were a squeaker, or too close to call up until the last minute. Yet given the living fossil of Anglo-American representative democracy that is Canada’s winner-take-all electoral system, the outcome of the 2019 election held few real surprises. There was little doubt that it would be either the incumbent Liberal Party or the opposition Conservative Party which would walk away from election night victorious, if chastened, perhaps, by minority status. The French have a word for it: alternance, two parties governing by turns in a protracted holding pattern. And the periodic alternation of the Liberals and the Conservatives, both parties of capital whose concrete policies have diverged chiefly in the details, has characterized Canadian politics virtually since Confederation.

 

Thoughts on the left in Canada

 

 

By Jason Devine

 

November 2, 2019 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — I have recently turned 39 and I have been a communist since I was 14. At that time I did not rush to join any self-declared radical left-wing organisation because I felt I did not know enough to make a reasoned judgement. It was only later, when I was twenty, that I joined the Communist Party of Canada (CPC). The reasons why I joined were because I wanted to learn, to actively promote revolution, and there was very little choice in Calgary. Most other groups only had a presence in Ontario or BC, but here things were sparse.

 

Kashmir, solidarity and the Canadian state

 

 

August 19, 2019 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Socialist Project — In his essay, “India’s Kashmir Crackdown Poses Risk of War,” John Riddell argues that India unilaterally revoked the autonomy of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, flooding the region with troops, imposing a curfew, and shutting down all communications, and imposing direct rule by New Delhi, India’s Hindu nationalist government, under the leadership of Narendra Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), radically increased the dangers of regional war. The Indian left immediately denounced the measures and called Jammu and Kashmir occupied territories (further drawing parallels to Occupied Palestine). In turn, this raised questions of international solidarity for the anti-war movement, and in Canada the demands to be placed on the Canadian state. Here Richard Fidler and John continue to discuss the Indian intervention into Kashmir and solidarity responses in Canada.

 

On the democratic character of socialist revolution

 

 

By John Riddell

 

July 12, 2019 Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from John Riddell's Marxist Essays and Commentary BlogUnder the headline “Karl Kautsky was right,” Eric Blanc wrote on the blog on April 5:

 

Leninists for decades have hinged their strategy on the need for an insurrection to overthrow the entire parliamentary state and to place all power into the hands of workers’ councils.[1]

 

When I read these words, my mind went back to a day 40 years earlier when this formulation was hurled at me by members of Canada’s security police.  They used it as justification for their illegal disruption and harassment directed against me and fellow members of the Revolutionary Workers League (RWL).

Trudeau government gives dangerous new powers to Canada’s political cops

 

 

By Richard Fidler

 

July 12, 2019 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Life on the Left Blog — Canada’s spy agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), is engaged in massive surveillance of environmentalists and Indigenous opponents of extractive energy projects. And it is sharing some of its “intelligence” with the oil industry and its regulator, the National Energy Board.

The Cuban Revolution and the Canadian solidarity movement of the 1960's

 

 

 

January 18, 2019 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — What follows is chapter fifteen from volume one of Ernest Tate’s memoir, Revolutionary Activism in the 1950s and 1960s, published by Resistance Books, London. In this chapter, using archival sources, he describes in detail how a small group of Canadian revolutionary socialists in the Socialist Educational League, S.E.L., later to become the League for Socialist Action, L.S.A., of which he was a leader, organized in 1960 to defend the early Cuban Revolution against a right-wing propaganda offensive inspired by American imperialism, designed to quarantine it from the Canadian people. Their campaign in defense of Cuba, he writes, was one of the most successful of its kind in the English-speaking world.

Solidaires score important breakthrough in Quebec election

 

 

“For the creation of the first country in the world founded with the indigenous.”

 

By Richard Fidler

 

October 6, 2018 
— Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Socialist Project — The October 1 general election campaign in Quebec unfolded as two distinct contests. One was the competition between the Liberals and Coalition Avenir Québec for control of the government. The other was a battle between the Parti québécois and Québec solidaire for hegemony within the pro-sovereignty movement.

 

 

Canada: A paragon of democratic national self-determination?

 

 

By Richard Fidler

 

May 8, 2018
— Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Life on the Left  — Madrid’s stubborn refusal to allow Catalans to vote on their independence prompted some commentators, paradoxically, to praise Canada’s support for Quebec self-determination.

 

“Quebec got off light,” wrote Louis Bernard,[1] a former top official in Parti québécois governments, referring to the Supreme Court of Canada judgment in the Reference re Secession of Quebec. After the almost-victory for the OUI in the 1995 referendum, he recalled, the federal government asked the Court to declare that Quebec had no right in Canadian or international law to choose unilaterally to “become a sovereign country, separated from Canada.”

 

Venezuelan people are prime victims of Ottawa’s sanctions

 

 

Introduction by Richard Fidler

 

January 27, 2018 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Life on the Left — “Since 2014,” writes a reporter in the online journal Venezuelanalysis, “Venezuela has been suffering from a deep economic crisis brought about by the drop in global oil prices, a dysfunctional exchange rate system, and a decrease in oil production levels.

 

“So far the crisis has been characterised by triple digit inflation, and a shortage of hard cash and everyday staples. Nonetheless, the situation has worsened since December 2017.”

 

The Maduro government is by no means exempt from responsibility for these deteriorating conditions. It has displayed a remarkable ineptness in its failure to overcome the economic crisis by tackling its underlying causes, notwithstanding some innovative maneuvering that has, for now, staved off the offensive by its right-wing political opponents and their foreign supporters.

 

The fight for independence in Catalonia: What lessons for Quebec?

 

 

‘We are the grandchildren of the grandparents you bashed' October 3 demonstration 
outside the Spanish National Police headquarters in Barcelona

 

Introduction by Richard Fidler

 

October 16, 2017 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Life on the Left — Following the October 1 referendum in Catalonia — held in the face of massive repression resulting in hundreds of injured — the people shut down production and massed in cities and towns across the autonomous state on October 3 to protest the Spanish government’s attempt to deny them the elementary democratic right to vote on their constitutional and political future.

 

Quebec sovereigntists debate fallout from Québec solidaire’s decisions on alliances

 

 

By Richard Fidler

 

June 7, 2017 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Life on the Left — As I explained in my previous report on the Québec solidaire congress, it was disclosed after the congress that the QS central leadership had disavowed the signatures by its representatives on a proposed “road map” to independence drafted in April by the coalition OUI Québec, which includes all the pro-independence parties including QS.

 

That decision, not reported to the QS congress delegates in late May, has since given rise so far to several articles, all of them published in the Montréal nationalist daily Le Devoir. I have translated them below.

Canada’s New Democratic Party and the “Leap Manifesto”

 

 

By Ernie Tate

 

June 1, 2017
Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Left Unity The campaign has begun in Canada’s New Democratic Party to replace Tom Mulcair as leader, after the party’s disastrous performance in the 2015 Federal election, the results of which induced a major crisis in the party, from which it has yet to recover.  In 2011 under its previous leader, Jack Layton, the NDP had achieved the status of Official Opposition,the closest it had ever come to forming a government in Ottawa. Layton, who had campaigned in that election while suffering from prostate cancer, died not long after that. Mulcair replaced him as party leader.

 

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