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‘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.

* * *

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”.

* * *

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.

Toronto is burning! Or is it? Black bloc tactics play into the state's hands


More at The Real News
Real News Network report of police violence against peaceful protesters on June 26, 2010.

By Judy Rebick

June 27, 2010 -- Rabble -- For people sitting at home and watching TV news last night, Toronto was burning. The same police car on Queen St West burned and blew up over and over again. The same image of a young man very violently smashing Starbucks windows appeared over and over again. Windows smashed all along Yonge Street. None of us had ever seen Toronto like this. It was shocking.

What next? The Freedom Flotilla and the struggle to break the siege of Gaza

By Rafeef Ziadah

June 5, 2010 -- The Bullet -- While people around the world are still in shock at the killing by Israeli commandos of innocent human rights activists on board the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, those who have been following Israeli state actions for some time are not surprised. This is an ongoing pattern of Israeli state terrorism and collective punishment. While we mourn the dead on the boats, we must not forget that the flotilla itself is in response to an even greater brutality – the slow starvation of more than 1.5 million people trapped in an open air prison called the Gaza Strip.

Canada: New openings for workers in Toronto

Participants at the Stewards' Assembly. Photo by John Maclennan.

By Herman Rosenfeld

March 2010 -- Relay (Socialist Project) -- In the context of an economic crisis where working people in Ontario, Canada, have suffered major setbacks, organised labour’s response has so far been disappointing. Apart from a few public sector strikes forced by employer concession demands, some longer-term strikes against concessions (such as the Vale-Inco struggle), a number of workplace occupations demanding severance pay and a few demonstrations calling for pension protection and Employment Insurance (EI) changes, there has been little resistance. This has forced activists in the trade union movement, and the left more widely, to confront the limits of our present organisational situation, and to begin to look for new ways to move forward.

Québec: Why the Parti Québécois expelled SPQ Libre

By Richard Fidler

March 30, 2010 -- Life on the Left -- A five-year long attempt to reform the Parti Québécois (PQ) as an independentist and “social-democratic” party ended abruptly on March 13 when the PQ’s national executive decided not to renew recognition of its left-wing “political club” as an authorised grouping with the party. The decision, which effectively expelled Syndicalistes et Progressistes pour un Québec Libre (SPQ Libre)[1] from the party, was promptly approved by the PQ’s conference of constituency presidents.

Tour builds Venezuela solidarity in Canada

By John Riddell

March 15, 2010 -- Socialist Voice -- Federico Fuentes and Kiraz Janicke concluded their 10-day tour of Canada on March 7, with a rally in Vancouver entitled “Change the system, not the climate”. Fuentes shared the platform with Pablo Solon, Bolivia’s UN ambassador and chief spokesperson on climate change.

 

Israel’s apartheid: Making Palestinians pay for Hitler’s crimes

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By Suzanne Weiss

This speech was given by Suzanne Weiss on March 2, 2010, to a meeting of students at the University of Waterloo in Canada, held as part of the Israeli Apartheid Week. Suzanne Weiss, a holocaust survivor, is a member of Not in Our Name: Jewish Voices Against Zionism and of the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid in Toronto.

* * *

A year after a murderous Israel’s assault, the war on the people of Gaza continues. Gaza is still under siege – still surrounded by walls and checkpoints. Its people are denied the necessities of life and the right to rebuild and shape their future.

For me, as a survivor of the holocaust, the tragic situation in Gaza awakens memories of what I and my family experienced under Hitlerism – the ghetto walls, the killings, the systematic starvation and deprivation, the daily humiliations.

Eyewitness account: Venezuela's Bolivarian Revolution -- The second decade

With Kiraz Janicke, Federico Fuentes. Moderated by Greg Albo.

Left Streamed -- Toronto, February 26, 2010 -- Kiraz Janicke is a journalist for Venezuelanalysis.com, the foremost independent English-language source of news on Venezuela. She is editor of the Peru en Movimiento website and a member of the Caracas bureau of Green Left Weekly, Australia's leading socialist newspaper.

Vancouver Winter Olympics: A festival of corporate greed

Graphic from No2010.com.

By Roger Annis

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada -- Socialist Voice -- On February 12, 2010, the corporate sporting behemoth known as the 21st Winter Olympic Games will open to great fanfare here. In a time of economic hardship and government cuts to social programs across Canada, huge sums of public money have been spent to stage this uber spectacle.

Billions of dollars have been spent constructing venues, a new convention centre and airport terminal; widening and paving untold kilometres of roads and highways; building a hugely expensive rapid transit line connecting the city’s airport to its downtown; and erecting new hotels to serve the influx of corporate sponsors and spectators.

The hotel, travel, restaurant and real estate industries hope to make a killing off the influx of out-of-town spectators and partygoers. Construction companies have already earned hundreds of millions of dollars during the years of preparation furiously pouring concrete and asphalt. The official line says there will also be lots of long-term tourism dollars to be made, though this has not happened in other host cities.

Reconstructing Haiti: Time to break with foreign interference

Sweatshop in Haiti.

By Regan Boychuk

January 26, 2010 -- Haitians’ incredible plight has always been difficult to fully appreciate. Then the earthquake struck: hundreds of thousands dead, hundreds of thousands more hurt, a million homeless, and two million in need of food. It defies imagination.

And according to a journalist just returned from Haiti, even the heart-rending footage we’ve seen here on television fails to “portray the magnitude of the tragedy that has happened – and the degree to which the Haitian people are suffering. When looking at images from the disaster,” writes Steven Edwards, “we need to multiply by ten times our reaction of horror – only doing that can give you a true picture of what is going on in a place that has become hell not far from our shores.”[i]

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