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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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