Canada

On Sunday, Nov. 20, the bargaining team for 55,000 Ontario CUPE education workers agreed to a tentative agreement with the Ford Conservatives, canceling their planned strike. The agreement, which will be put to members for a vote this week, has been widely criticized by hundreds of members of our union, as it only contains a $1 annual wage increase over four years.

55,000 education workers in Ontario, Canada (organised by the public sector union CUPE) are waging an inspiring struggle against the rotten provincial government of Doug Ford. Defying legal threats and dirty constitutional attempts to force them back to work and impose wage cuts, the workers are on indefinite strike action to protect their living standards against soaring inflation. This example is drawing other layers into the fight, and there is talk of an Ontario-wide general strike.

Negotiations have broken down between the Ontario government and 55,000 education workers. Even before a strike has been launched, Minister of Education Stephen Lecce has tabled draconian legislation to take away the democratic right to strike of education workers. Going one step further, the government is also using the notwithstanding clause to eliminate collective bargaining rights altogether and impose a rotten contract on education workers who are among the poorest unionised workers in the province.

Tiff Macklem, the governor of the Bank of Canada, recently told businesses that it was their duty to attack the living standards of workers for the sake of inflation. Despite the fact the corporations are making record profits, and there is absolutely zero evidence linking wages to inflation, Canada’s top banker insisted that workers must be forced to suffer. There can be no better evidence that capitalism is an anti-worker system and that workers must fight for its overthrow.

On July 2 and 3, 2022 over 100 people gathered in Edmonton for the third annual Western Canadian Marxist Summer School. This was the first large in-person gathering of Marxists in Western Canada since 2019, and the biggest in living memory. People from all over the country, from Montreal to Victoria and even the Yukon attended. The success of the school shows that workers and youth in Western Canada want to fight against capitalism, and they’re looking for ideas and an organization that can help them win.

On April 16, a flash flood in Burkina Faso trapped eight miners underground. Six of them were killed, with two of the bodies only being found over a month later, on May 27. Six of the eight miners were from Burkina Faso, one from Zambia, and another from Tanzania. The company responsible is Canadian-based Trevali Mining Corp., which has mines in Burkina Faso, Namibia, as well as New Brunswick. The company is currently valued at 369 million dollars, making it the largest mining company in Burkina Faso.

Gas prices have shot up to around $2 a litre in most of Canada. This marks an increase of 50 per cent since the beginning of the year, and is a huge burden on working class families. Some academics believe that these costs are discretionary, but the reality is that most workers have no choice but to pay these high prices. Canadians are shelling out more and more to simply get to and from work. Workers need a socialist solution to the high cost of gas.

On the weekend of May 21, 2022, the Canadian Marxists who are organized in Fightback/La Riposte socialiste held their largest congress ever. Over 280 people came to Toronto from dozens of cities showing the impressive expansion of the organization over the past couple of years. While the Canadian left is despondent, the mood of this congress contrasted sharply, dominated by enthusiasm and optimism. The Marxists are advancing!

This year we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the “Maple Spring”, which represents the largest mass movement in the history of Quebec. This student strike mobilized hundreds of thousands of students before becoming a broader movement, which brought down the hated government of Jean Charest. This picture stands in stark contrast to the sorry state of the student movement in recent years.

This weekend saw the twelfth edition of the Montreal Marxist Winter School. For the second year in a row, this must-attend event for North American Marxists had to be held online. Despite the more impersonal nature of the Zoom meetings, the tremendous enthusiasm of the participants was palpable.

Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, recently invoked the Emergencies Act, giving the federal government substantial repressive powers. Whilst nominally invoked in response to the chaos caused by the so-called “Freedom Convoy”, such powers will certainly be used against the working class in the future. The workers’ movement must therefore oppose these measures. Only the working class can stop the far right!

As a sign of the growing popularity of revolutionary ideas, the Montreal Marxist Winter School has been growing steadily over the years, to become the largest Marxist event in Quebec and Canada. The 12th edition of the Marxist School will be held on Zoom this weekend, February 19, 20 and 21, 2022.

The so-called Freedom Convoy has dominated headlines for the past few weeks and has been blockading the downtown core around Parliament Hill in Ottawa for a week. While the numbers in the blockade have thinned, there are no signs that they intend to leave anytime soon and many have vowed to stay until their demands for the rescinding of all pandemic health measures are met.

In the current crisis over Ukraine, Canada has not played its usual role as the mild-mannered younger brother of U.S. imperialism. As a recent op-ed in the Toronto Starpointed out, Canada has been “playing the cowboy” and being “unusually hawkish”. Far from unusual, this is entirely consistent with Canada’s typical approach to Ukraine. Posing as a benevolent protector to cover its own imperialist maneuvers, Canada’s denunciations of “Russian aggression” ring with hypocrisy.