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Canada

Trade unions must join the fight against climate change

Ian Angus speaking at the Climate Change Social Change conference. Photo by Alex Bainbridge.

September 29, 2011 -- Climate and Capitalism, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Ian Angus, editor of Climate and Capitalism, is currently in Australia to speak at the Climate Change Social Change conference in Melbourne, September 30 – October 3.

During his pre-conference speaking tour, he was invited to address several meetings of trade union members. The following is a lightly edited transcript of the opening comments he made at union meetings in Melbourne and Geelong.

[For more articles by Ian Angus, click HERE.]

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Thank you for inviting me to speak today.

Québec Solidaire: A Québécois approach to building a broad left party

Amir Khadir, currently Québec solidaire's sole member of the Quebec legislature, the National Assembly.

August 31, 2011 -- Life on the Left, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission and that of Alternate Routes -- The following article is scheduled for publication in a forthcoming issue of the journal Alternate Routes. It is an expanded and updated version of a presentation to the third annual conference of the Critical Social Research Collaborative, held March 5, 2011, at Carleton University, Ottawa, on the theme “Varieties of Socialism, Varieties of Approaches”. Part II (below) will discuss the evolution of Québec Solidaire since its founding.

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By Richard Fidler

A number of attempts have been made in recent years to launch new parties and processes, addressing a broad left or popular constituency, that are programmatically anti-neoliberal if not anti-capitalist, some of them self-identifying as part of an international effort to create a “socialism of the 21st century”. They vary widely in origins, size, social composition and influence.

On the meaning of ‘popular front’

The Bolivarian movement led by Hugo Chávez contains bourgeois forces and has been the scene of repeated struggles between popular and bureaucratic wings. But far from subordinating workers to bourgeois leadership, it has served as the instrument to mobilise the masses in struggles that have won significant gains.

By John Riddell

August 8, 2011 -- also availabe at johnriddell.wordpress.com, posted at Links international Journal of Socialist Renewal with John Riddell's permission -- In a comment posted July 16 to my article “Honduras Accord: A Gain for Ottawa?” Todd Gordon warns against the danger of “popular-front style organization” and a “popular front electoralist strategy” (see his comment below this article). Socialists often use the term “popular front” or “people’s front” as a form of condemnation. But what exactly does the term mean, and how does apply it to poor, oppressed countries like Honduras?

Fact-finding delegation reports on post-earthquake Haiti

Cuban and Cuba-trained Haitian doctors at work in Haiti.

July 26, 2011 -- Canada Haiti Action Network -- Three Canadian solidarity activists conducted a 10-day fact-finding and solidarity mission to Haiti from June 20 to 30, 2011. The delegation, organised by Haiti Solidarity BC, the Vancouver affiliate of the Canada Haiti Action Network, travelled throughout the earthquake zone, including Port-au-Prince, Léogâne and Jacmel.

We visited neighbourhoods, camps of displaced people, medical centres and human rights and social organisations there to gain an overview of the most pressing needs in Haiti. During some of our visits and interviews, we were joined by other Canadians working on aid projects.

Honduras resistance launches political party; Political statement of the FARP; Cartagena Accord debated

By Felipe Stuart Cournoyer and John Riddell

July 11, 2011 -- johnriddell.wordpress.com, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- A national assembly of the resistance, uniting more than 1500 delegates from across Honduras, voted on June 26 to launch a new political party, the Frente Amplio de Resistencia Popular (Broad Front of Popular Resistance, FARP).

The assembly was convened by the Frente Nacional de Resistencia Popular (National People’s Resistance Front, FNRP), the main coordinating body of popular struggle since a right-wing coup overthrew the democratically elected government of President Manuel Zelaya two years ago, on June 28, 2009.

The new party is to function as an arm of the Resistance Front in the political-electoral arena and will contest the 2013 presidential elections.

The delegates met under large suspended banners displaying the images of ALBA presidents—Hugo Chávez (Venezuela), Daniel Ortega (Nicaragua), Raúl Castro (Cuba) and Evo Morales (Bolivia), alongside those of Francisco Morazán, Simón Bolívar, Che Guevara and Fidel Castro. Honduras was illegitimately removed from the ALBA alliance by the coup regime established in 2009.

Canada’s election: NDP gains widen space for social struggles

By Roger Annis

May 23, 2011 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, an earlier version of this article also first appeared in Green Left Weekly -- The incumbent Conservative Party sailed to victory in Canada’s federal election on May 2 with the first majority government in the federal parliament since the 2000 election. There was celebration in the boardrooms of the country. The victory caps a decades-long drive by much of Canada’s business elite to fashion a strong national government on a hard-right agenda.

The result is a deep disappointment for progressive-minded people in Canada. The Conservatives led by Stephen Harper will form the most right-wing government in modern Canadian history, extending the regressive path of its two minority governments won in the 2006 and 2008 elections.

Canada: NDP breakthrough in Quebec -- a challenge for the Canadian left

New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton.

By Richard Fidler

May 8, 2011 -- Life on the Left -- If New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton’s election-night speech to his Toronto supporters is an indication of what lies ahead, the NDP is going to have a hard time coming to terms with a parliamentary caucus now composed of a majority of MPs from Quebec.

To a crowded room in which nearly everyone was waving Canadian flags, the NDP leader delivered two-thirds of his remarks in English without ever mentioning the expression “Quebec nation”. The scene, televised across Canada, did not go unremarked in Quebec, where most of the NDP’s sudden support had come from nationalist-minded voters, including many sympathisers of Quebec independence.

Montreal conference rallies support for rights of nature

By John Riddell

April 23, 2011 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Bolivia marked Earth Day (April 22) this year by formulating the Law of Mother Earth, which—when adopted—will establish 11 new rights for nature, including the right not to be polluted and the right to continue vital cycles free from human interference.

On April 20, the United Nations General Assembly debated a proposal introduced by Bolivia, with support of other South American countries, to adopt a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Nature. The proposed global treaty says that “Mother Earth has the right to exist, persist, and to continue the vital cycles … that sustain all human beings”.

Meanwhile, Canada’s political and media establishment have organised an election campaign in which the world’s ecological crisis is barely mentioned.

‘Beyond capitalism’? Québec solidaire launches debate on its program for social transformation

Françoise David, QS president, and Amir Khadir, its sole elected member of the National Assembly.

By Richard Fidler, Montréal

April 7, 2011 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal – At a convention held here March 25-27, 2011, Québec solidaire (QS) concluded the second round in the process of adopting its program. More than 350 delegates from party associations across the province debated and adopted the party’s stance on issues in relation to the economy, ecology and labour. And they reaffirmed their determination to build the party as an independent political alternative, rejecting proposals by QS leaders to seek “tactical agreements” with the capitalist Parti québécois (PQ) and/or the Parti vert (Greens) that would have allowed reciprocal support of the other party’s candidate in selected ridings.

Canada: How can we aid Libya’s freedom movement?

Libyan Canadian shouts down with Gaddafi slogans outside Calgary City Hall, February 22, 2011. Photo by Ted Rhodes, Calgary Herald.

By John Riddell

February 28, 2011 -- Socialist Voice -- The brutal massacres of civilians in Libya at the order of the country’s dictator, Muammar Qaddafi, have shocked the world. His air force has carried out air strikes against unarmed civilians. On February 25, Qaddafi followers aimed murderous fire on anti-government protests in his last stronghold, Tripoli. The government declares its intention of reconquering the country in civil war.

What can those in Canada do to end the killings?

On February 26, the United Nations Security Council voted for sanctions against the Libyan regime, including an arms embargo and  the freezing of assets of Qaddafi and his family. These measures are hardly more than cosmetic, serving to polish up great-power credentials.

Why does health care in Cuba cost 96% less than in the US?

Claudia Lopez, an intern, with outpatients at 5 de Septiembre Polyclinic, Havana. Photo by Gail Reed/World Health Organisation.

By Don Fitz

January 5, 2011-- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- When Americans spend $100 on health care, is it possible that only $4 goes to keeping them well and $96 goes somewhere else? Single payer health care [government-funded universal health insurance] advocates compare US health care to that in Western Europe or Canada and come up with figures of 20–30% waste in the US.

But there is one country with very low level of economic activity yet with a level of health care equal to the West: Cuba.

Life expectancy of about 78 years of age in Cuba is equivalent to the US. Yet, in 2005, Cuba was spending US$193 per person on health care, only 4% of the $4540 being spent in the US. Where could the other 96% of US health care dollars be going?

1. A fragmented system

Haiti: `Don't blame Haitians for election fiasco'

The popular Fanmi Lavalas party was excluded from the November 28 Haitian elections.

The following article appeared on the op-ed page of the Toronto Star, Canada’s largest circulation daily newspaper, on December 1, 2010. Kevin Edmonds is a freelance journalist and graduate student at McMaster University’s Globalization Institute. Roger Annis is a coordinator of the Canada Haiti Action Network.

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By Roger Annis and Kevin Edmonds

December 1, 2010 -- Those who counselled against holding a national election in Haiti in the midst of a catastrophic humanitarian crisis will take no comfort in the debacle it became. Our thoughts rest squarely with the tens of thousands of people afflicted with cholera, and the hundreds of thousands of earthquake victims still without shelter, clean water and hope. How much suffering could have been alleviated with the tens of million of dollars spent on a wasted electoral exercise?

Haiti: Sham `selection' serves interests of wealthy elite and foreign powers

November 18, 2010 -- Democracy Now! -- "Protests against UN continue over cholera outbreak". Protests are continuing in Haiti over the cholera outbreak that has now killed more than 1100 people and infected some 17,000. For the full transcript of the report, click here.

By the Canada Haiti Action Network

November 12, 2010 -- The Canada Haiti Action Network (CHAN) is once again expressing its grave concerns about exclusionary elections in Haiti.[1] It joins with the many Haitians as well as human rights organisations in Haiti and abroad in condemning these elections as serving the interests of Haiti's wealthy elite and the foreign powers that have dominated Haiti's past and present.

Ecuador, Venezuela: Danger south of the border

Supporters of Ecuador's President Rafael Correa celebrate his return following defeat of the attempted coup.

By Paul Kellogg

October 26, 2010 -- Polecon.net -- It is not difficult to see that the events of September 30, in the Latin American country of Ecuador, amounted to an attempted right-wing coup d’état. Mass mobilisations in the streets and plazas of Quito (the capital) and other cities – in conjunction with action by sections of the armed forces which stayed loyal to the government – stopped the coup before the day was out. But those few hours highlighted, again, the deep dangers facing those fighting for progressive change in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Remarkably, the first task is to re-assert that in fact a coup attempt took place. In the wake of the failure of the coup, commentator after commentator was trying to minimise what happened. Peruvian “libertarian” Álvaro Vargas Llosa – darling of the World Economic Forum and outspoken critic of Che Guevara and the current governments of Bolivia and Venezuela – insists that it was not a coup just an “ill-advised, violent protest by the police against a law that cut their benefits”.[1]

Afghanistan: Malalai Joya -- `for our people, Obama is a warmonger, like another Bush'

Malalai Joya visits a girls' school in Farah province in Afghanistan. Photo: AfghanKabul.

By Malalai Joya

October 10, 2010 -- rabble.ca -- In the United States, many looked to the ballot box and hoped for real change when Barack Obama was elected president in 2008.

To be honest, I never expected that he would be any different for Afghanistan than President George W. Bush. The truth is that Obama's war policies have turned out to be even more of a nightmare than most people expected. Obama talked a lot about hope and change, but for Afghanistan the only change has been for the worse.

After almost two years of Obama, the number of US troops occupying Afghanistan has more than doubled. And the number of drone attacks in Pakistan has increased. Obama's so-called surge of troops has resulted in increased Afghan civilian deaths.

The documents released by Wikileaks prove what we have been saying about war in Afghanistan. There are more massacres by NATO forces than they wanted us to believe. Now the whole world should know this war is a disaster.

Toronto G20 protests: What was gained and what was lost

Toronto, June 25, 2010. The peaceful mass protests against the G20 were largely ignored by the mass media.

By John Riddell and Art Young

September 2, 2010 -- Socialist Voice -- Two months after the protests against the G20 summit in Toronto and the accompanying police rampage, it is time for an initial balance sheet of what was gained and lost.

Some on the left view the experience as entirely positive. In particular, the Toronto Community Mobilization Network (TCMN) declares flatly that “the people won”, citing participation by “nearly 40,000 people”, the success of the June 24 march for Indigenous sovereignty, and the involvement of a wide spectrum of social movements and “over 100 grassroots organizations”. The July 26 TCMN statement also highlights protesters’ capacity to carry on in the face of arrests and intimidation, including deployment of almost 20,000 cops and a formidable array of weaponry, at a cost of more than C$1.2 billion.

Ian Angus: What next for ecosocialists?

By Ian Angus

August 30, 2010 -- Canadian Dimension via Climate & Capitalism -- Not long ago, most socialists had little to say about environmental issues, and the environmental movement was focused on individual (change your light bulbs) and capitalist (create a market for emissions) solutions to the ecological crisis.

In 2007, immediately after the founding of the Ecosocialist International Network, I wrote a Canadian Dimension article on the challenges facing ecosocialists. In it, I discussed two parallel trends that, though in their infancy, seemed to portend a new wave of anti-capitalist and pro-ecology action.

  • Some socialists were moving away from the left’s abstention from the environmental movement, and attempting to develop a distinctly socialist approach to the global environmental crisis.

Ecuador: Indigenous struggle, ecology and capitalist resource extraction

Marlon Santi, Quito, July 5, 2010.

Marlon Santi interviewed by Jeffery R. Webber

July 13, 2010 -- The Bullet -- On July 5, I sat down with Marlon Santi, president of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE), in his office in Quito. We discussed the increasing contradictions between the demands of the Indigenous people's movement, on the one hand, around water rights and anti-mining resistance, and the positions of the government of Rafael Correa, on the other, which has labelled Indigenous resistance to large-scale mining and oil exploitation as “terrorism and sabotage”.

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Can you describe your political formation and personal political trajectory?

Toronto G20: `Toxic remedies' will make workers and poor pay for the crisis

By Damien Millet, Sophie Perchellet and Eric Toussaint. Translated by Christine Pagnoulle and Marie Lagatta

June 28, 2010 -- Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt -- As at its previous meetings, the Toronto summit of the exclusive G20 club, to which the world’s richest countries invited the heads of state of the major emerging countries, once again raised great expectations only to end as an empty bubble. As in London in 2008, then Pittsburgh in 2009, the Toronto G20 discussions focused on a way out of the economic crisis. But a capitalist way out, favouring creditors and great powers.

For the last two years global financial regulation has been an elusive sea serpent, unsurprisingly resulting in no concrete measures. To appease their citizens who pay a high price for the consequences of the present crisis, although they bear no responsibility for it, governments pretend they are trying to redefine the rules in the global financial game whereas for decades they have promoted the cancellation of any rules that would protect the world’s peoples.

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