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Challenges facing Québec solidaire following breakthrough in Quebec election

Québec solidaire's Amir Khadir (left) has been elected to the Québec National Assembly.

By Richard Fidler

December 15, 2008 -- In the December 8 Québec general election, the Liberal government headed by Jean Charest was re-elected with 66 seats, turning its minority status before the election into a thin majority of seats in the National Assembly. The sovereigntist Parti québécois (PQ), benefiting from a late surge in the polls, was elected in 51 seats and replaced the right-wing Action Démocratique du Québec (ADQ) as official parliamentary opposition. The ADQ elected only seven members.

New Palestine solidarity journal: Jafa -- A Bulletin in Solidarity with Palestinian Workers and Unions

Labour for Palestine (Canada) is proud to launch:

Jafa -- A Bulletin in Solidarity with Palestinian Workers and Unions

*** Available for download at www.caiaweb.org/labourcommittee or click HERE (14mb PDF)***


As an initiative coming out of the first Labour for Palestine conference, held in Toronto May-June 2008, we are pleased to bring you the first issue of Jafa: A Bulletin in Solidarity with Palestinian Workers and Unions.

Jafa will be published quarterly and aims to bring together news and analysis on the situation of Palestinian workers and unions wherever they are -- in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, citizens of Israel, refugee camps and across the diaspora.

We stand in solidarity with the 2005 call from Palestine for a campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israeli apartheid. This call was signed by all major Palestinian trade union federations, including the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions.

Quebec: Breakthrough for Québec Solidaire

By Paul Kellogg

December 9, 2008 -- Amir Khadir, one of the two spokespersons for Québec Solidaire (QS), has won a seat in the Quebec National Assembly. Among the many excellent aspects of the Québec Solidaire platform is a call for the Quebec government to pass a motion opposing “any Canadian imperialist intervention in Afghanistan.”[1] The QS success represents an important advance for the social justice and anti-war movements in both Quebec and English Canada.

Khadir’s victory was not just the victory of one individual. In his riding [parliamentary constituency seat] of Mercier, QS won 8861 votes, 38.06% of votes cast, defeating Daniel Turp, a star candidate of the Parti Québécois (PQ) by 872 votes. But in the ridings surrounding Mercier, QS also did extremely well. In Gouin, the other co-spokesperson for QS, Françoise David, came a very close second to the PQ winning 7987 votes (31.95%). In ridings adjacent to either Mercier or Gouin, QS won 2963 votes (13.01%) in Laurier-Dorion, 2228 votes (11.43%) in Outremont, 3009 votes (15.22%) in Saint-Marie-Saint-Jacques, 2502 votes (12.91%) in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, and 2470 votes (8.24%) in Rosemont – more than 30,000 votes in total in these seven ridings on the Island of Montreal.

Canada: Political crisis exposes national, class divisions; left debates Liberal-NDP coalition

Rally in favour of a Liberal-NDP coalition, Toronto, December 6, 2008.

By Richard Fidler

OTTAWA -– December 8, 2008 -– In a classic 19th century work, English journalist Walter Bagehot divided the constitution into two parts. The “efficient” part — the executive (cabinet) and legislative — were responsible for the business of government. The “dignified” part, the Queen, was to put a human face on the capitalist state. Bagehot noted, however, that the Queen also had “a hundred” powers called prerogatives, adding: “There is no authentic explicit information as to what the Queen can do….”[1]

Quebec left's challenge to socialists in the rest of Canada

Bloc Québécois supporters

By Richard Fidler

October 19, 2008 -- Once again, the Bloc Québécois has taken a majority of Quebec’s seats in Canada's House of Commons — 50 out of 75, one less than in 2006, although down by three percentage points.

In doing so, it dashed Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s hopes of a Conservative breakthrough in Quebec that would deliver him a majority government in Ottawa. Working people throughout Canada heaved a sigh of relief.

The Bloc’s support is more than a rejection of the Tories’ right-wing policies. As Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe declared on election night, October 14, it is a clear demonstration “that Quebec is a distinct nation linguistically, culturally, socially and economically”. This was the sixth consecutive federal election since 1993 in which the pro-sovereignty Bloc has won a majority of Quebec’s seats under the first-past-the-post system.

Canadian election: Left and labour movement discuss way forward

A selection of articles from Canadian socialists discussing the October 14 federal election and the debates and discussions in the Canadian and Quebec left and labour movements on electoral tactics.

Canada’s elections: What’s the alternative to the Tories?

By Roger Annis

October 1, 2008 -- Canada’s minority Conservative Party government has called a federal election for October 14. Serious issues confront voters  war in the Middle East and Afghanistan, the economic downturn that that will grow out of the US financial crisis, and climate change that endangers human life on our planet. But four of the five parties in the federal parliament are avoiding serious debate on these issues.

The fifth, the labour-based New Democratic Party (NDP), has a platform that responds to many working class needs, but it is evading vital issues. Only action by trade unions and social justice movements can place working-class concerns at the centre of the electoral spectacle.

The Liberal Party lesser evil?

Cuba supporters in Canada launch hurricane relief fund

Introduction by Robert Johnson

September 14, 2008 (Socialist Voice) -- Cuba has been assaulted in quick succession by three powerful hurricanes. Gustav, Hanna and Ike left a trail of massive destruction, the worst that Cuba has experienced in more than four decades. This was a cruel blow to the Cuban people, who have set an example to the world of selfless generosity despite their limited material resources. Under the leadership of their workers and farmers government, Cubans have now set to work to repair the damage.

Canada: Saying `sorry' with a forked tongue

By Mike Krebs

“I want to get rid of the Indian problem. I do not think as a matter of fact, that the country ought to continuously protect a class of people who are able to stand alone… Our objective is to continue until there is not a single Indian in Canada that has not been absorbed into the body politic and there is no Indian question, and no Indian Department, that is the whole object of this Bill” — Duncan Campbell Scott, head of the Department of Indian Affairs and founder of the residential school system, 1920.

July 1, 2008 -- On June 11, 2008, Stephen Harper, prime minister of Canada and leader of the Conservative Party, issued an “apology” for the residential school system that more than 150,000 Indigenous children were forced through. The hype before and after the statement was enormous, with extensive coverage in all major media.

Canadian workers demand immediate end to war in Afghanistan (+ video)

By Michael Skinner

On 29 May 2009, the delegates at the national convention of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), representing more than 3 million workers from every region of Canada and Quebec, voted overwhelmingly to demand that the government of Canada immediately end its participation in the illegal war in Afghanistan.

This CLC demand represents a significant consolidation of labour power. Several national unions, notably the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), had already adopted policies to oppose Canada's participation in the war in Afghanistan. However, some powerful unions whose members work in the rapidly expanding Canadian military and development industries could profit from continuing the war. The women and men of these unions made the difficult decision to stand in solidarity with the working people of Afghanistan rather than act on self-interest.

Building trade union solidarity with Palestine

By Adam Hanieh

``International solidarity is fundamental to a progressive and fighting labour movement. It is not an optional part of labour activism or a form of charity. International solidarity goes to the heart of what it means to be a labour activist. It means seeing the struggle of our sisters and brothers in other countries as our own struggle. Their victories as our victories'' -- Canadian Union of Public Employees International Solidarity Committee: What We Stand For.

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May 20, 2008 -- In July 2005, more than 170 Palestinian organisations urged the world to adopt a campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel in the manner of [the campaign against] South Africa's apartheid regime. This call was signed by all the main Palestinian trade union federations, as well as refugee, women's and student organisations from across Palestine and the Arab world. It represented the broadest political statement in Palestinian history, precipitating a powerful global solidarity campaign that has grown dramatically over the last few years.

Canada: A World in Revolt. Prospects for Socialism in the 21st Century. May 22-25, Toronto

A World in Revolt

Prospects for Socialism in the 21st Century
An international political education conference, May 22-25, 2008 at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, 252 Bloor Street West (St. George Subway Station), Toronto, sponsored by Socialist Action-Canada, Socialist Action-United States, and the Socialist Unity League (LUS) of Mexico.

Thursday, May 22
7 p.m. Palestine, the Annapolis trap, and the Global Boycott Campaign -- Andy Pollack (SA-US, New York), Mazen Masri (Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid-Toronto) and Khaled Mouammar (President, Canadian Arab Federation).

Friday, May 23
4 p.m. Feminism, Anti-Racism and Immigrants' Rights – The Marxist View -- Sarah O'Sullivan (SA-Canada, Halifax), Jason McGahan (SA-US, Connecticut) and Rebecca Doran (SA-US, San Francisco).

Canada's Socialist Project

At a meeting in Toronto in the fall of 2000, some 750 activists responded to a call to "rebuild the left" by developing a structured movement against capitalism. This call for a new political formation that would be "more than a movement, less than a party" was similar to other initiatives in Canada and around the world that have been undertaken as the traditional organisations of the political left have waned.

The call was based on the understanding that the discovery and creation of a new kind of left politics is not going to be easy. It was in this spirit that, when the first Toronto initiative faltered, a group of independent socialists continued to meet with other activists across Ontario to try to learn from the experience and find a way forward. The group asked hard questions about how radically different from that first initiative a new political formation of the left would need to be. And they exchanged ideas and assessments of the political situation in Canada and the world, both to focus debate and to arrive at areas of political agreement.

Out of this process—a ray of sunshine during the long winter of 2003—this political statement was completed, launching the Socialist Project as a new political formation on the Canadian left.

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