Northern Lights — News and Views
Pan-Canadian Week of Action to
Condemn Sham Elections in Haiti,
November 12–20, 2005
The Canada Haiti Action Network
(CHAN) is conducting a cross-country Week of Action to demonstrate the growing
opposition to the Canadian government’s disastrous policies in Haiti. Starting
on Parliament Hill in Ottawa at 1 p.m. on
November 12, Haiti
solidarity organizers in at least six cities (Halifax,
Montréal, Ottawa, Toronto,
Edmonton, and Vancouver)
will hold demonstrations and other activities called to condemn the
Canada-backed sham elections in Haiti.
CHAN demands that the
government of Canada:
- Withdraw the support of Elections Canada and all
other bodies from any elections held under the current conditions of
repression, which include hundreds of political prisoners, police killings
and terror, and the exclusion of the poor from electoral participation;
- Demand the immediate release of Amnesty International
prisoner of conscience Father Gérard Jean-Juste, former Prime Minister
Yvon Neptune, the folk singer Annette “S Ann” Auguste, and all
other political prisoners;
- Discontinue all RCMP training and logistical support
for the human rights-abusing Haitian National Police, and withdraw all
Canadian logistical support for the UN “peacekeeping”
mission-turned repression operation;
- Support the position of the governments of the Caribbean community countries (CARICOM) and the
African Union, both of which are demanding an investigation into the
circumstances of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s removal;
- Withdraw and withhold recognition of Haiti’s
coup government until President Aristide is returned to oversee the
holding of fair elections without repression.
Canada’s Role in Haiti’s
Human Rights Crisis
Deeply-impoverished Haiti is in the midst of a major human rights
crisis, following the coup d’état sponsored by Canada,
the US, and France on
February 29, 2004. The cost of living has skyrocketed. Repression and social
turmoil has left the population far worse off than they were before the coup.
The Haitian puppet government and the World Bank are working to turn the
country into an even more easily exploited sweatshop zone, where Canadian and
American corporations can extract even greater profits without fear of
interference from a Haitian government interested in protecting its population.
A few Canadian companies, such as Gildan Activewear and SNC-Lavalin, have
already begun to cash-in on the new, more business-friendly environment
established following the coup. Share prices for these companies are flying
while Haitians are dying. Canada’s
own Chief Electoral Officer Jean-Pierre Kingsley leads the “monitoring
mission” appointed to bless this sham election in the same way that sham
occupation elections were blessed by Kingsley in Iraq earlier this year. Kingsley is
in a clear conflict of interest, given his position on the Board of Directors
of IFES, a US-funded NGO with direct links to the International Republican
Institute and other groups that worked to undermine Haiti’s elected government
and to foment the military coup. All organizations interested in endorsing this
pan-Canadian Week of Action, please contact Canada Haiti Action Network at
(613) 864-1590, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on Canada’s role in Haiti, and
updates on this Week of Action, please see or
NDP dumps bigot MP
With a Canadian federal
election expected within six months, New Democratic Party members in northern Manitoba’s
Churchill constituency took the rare step of denying the nomination for the
next election to their sitting NDP Member of Parliament (MP) Bev Desjarlais.
Desjarlais, who has held the
riding since 1997, was the only member of the labour-based NDP to vote against
the same-sex marriage bill, which was passed by Parliament last Spring. After losing the nomination to Niki Ashton, 24,
Desjarlais announced that she will sit as an Independent MP, and run in the
Coincidentally, former leftist
NDP MP Svend Robinson, who did not seek re-election in 2004 after being
convicted of theft (committed due to mental distress, he claimed), announced he
is making a political come-back.
Robinson, the first openly-gay
MP in Canada, will seek the
NDP nomination in British Columbia’s
Vancouver Centre constituency, currently held by Liberal Heddy Fry, and not far
from the Burnaby Douglas seat Robinson held for over twenty-five years.
Vancouver Centre is home to Canada’s
largest gay population. Among his accomplishments, Robinson succeeded in
winning House of Common's approval for a private-member's bill extending hate
crimes protection to gays and lesbians.
Meanwhile, the federal Liberal
government, bending to pressure from big business, and seeking to divert
attention from festering scandals, is planning a November economic statement to
Parliament which will likely feature tax cuts, rather
than investing most of the huge federal surplus (over $60 billion over the past
eight years) into long starved areas of social expenditure.
According to an October public
opinion survey by Decima, the Liberals held 34 per cent support, the
Conservatives 29 per cent, the NDP 18 per cent, and the Bloc Québécois, which
runs only in Québec, is poised to sweep in that province. If these figures
hold, another minority government in Ottawa
would likely be the result.
Exploit Seniors Longer —
the corporate answer to baby bust
The solution to an aging
population (and the “fear” of declining productivity) is not more
immigrants or more babies, says the big business-based Conference Board of Canada.
The answer is forcing people to work longer.
How? By legislating later
retirement, by increasing the eligibility age for government pension plans, and
by reducing unemployment and disability benefits to prevent workers from using
social security programmes as a route to early retirement.
Most provincial governments
have already passed laws eliminating mandatory retirement, with Ontario soon to follow
suite. (Ironically, in the field of education, this has increased
under-employment as retired teachers receiving pension are able to “double
dip” by returning to occasional teaching, leaving veteran and new
substitute teachers with less work and income. Could this happen in other
The Conference Board has in
mind more “work incentives,” like flexible hours, more re-training
and job placement assistance, plus government subsidies to firms to hire and
retain older workers, to offset higher salaries that often go with seniority.
But as most Wal-Mart greeters
can tell you, that shouldn’t be necessary. Hunger is usually a sufficient
incentive to work for poverty wages.
about “declining productivity”? That is nothing more than an
ancient ruse for bosses to raise the rate of exploitation. In reality,
productivity is crippled by the waste and anarchy inherent in the capitalist
mode of production. The solution is to replace competition with cooperation, to
replace private profit with public, democratic planning. The answer is to end
war production in favour of meeting human needs by way of environment-friendly
industrial practices. That, in essence, is a prescription for socialism —
which is not exactly the Conference Board’s cup of tea.
Ontario Liberals move
to quash welfare supplement
As Liberal Minister of
Community and Social Services, Sandra Pupatello, is preparing a major cut to
the $250 Special Diet Supplement to basic welfare rates, protest actions
against the move are growing.
In October, local Ontario
Common Front groups in Guelph, Sudbury
and Ottawa held
protest actions at offices of provincial politicians. In Ottawa, a rally was held at the constituency
office of Premier Dalton McGuinty. The Tenant Action Group in Belleville marched eighty of its supporters
to a local Liberal MPP hosted event and confronted Minister Pupatello who
unwisely decided to visit their community. Pupatello also got a visit from a
sizeable Ontario Coalition Against Poverty delegation
at her Ministry offices in Toronto.
OCAP reported the event as follows: “Overcoming the controlled entry
system at the Ministry, we were able to take over a plush boardroom for several
hours. We forced a meeting with Ministry bureaucrats during which our
delegation, made up overwhelmingly of mothers from poor communities who have
been the backbone of the fight in Toronto,
removed any hopes Pupatello may have had that her operation to restore hunger
will go smoothly.”
OCAP goes on to say, “[These
are] only the first few moves to challenge the attack on the Special Diet
Supplement. Tens of thousands have accessed this means of removing hunger from
the lives of their families, and hundreds of thousands more are hopeful they
can obtain it. The allies who will support our defence of the Supplement will
be many and varied but, most of all, it will be communities under attack that
will take on this Government. Welfare and disability rates are an assault on
health and dignity and the Supplement will not be surrendered without a fight.”
OCAP demands that welfare rates
by restored to their 1995 levels with a 40% increase, or that the Supplement be
given to everyone on social assistance.
So, what say the heads of the
Ontario Federation of Labour, which meets in convention in Toronto, November 21–25? What say the
leaders of the Ontario NDP?
The silence is deafening.
Big Nickel merger threatens jobs
The $12.5 billion takeover bid
by nickel giant Inco Ltd. for Falconbridge Ltd. thwarts a move by
Switzerland-based Xstrata PLC to gain control of a Canadian name- brand
The merger may give Canadian
nationalists a vicarious thrill, but it threatens jobs in Sudbury, Ontario.
Commenting on the Inco - Falconbridge overlap, Wayne Fraser, Steelworkers’
union director for Ontario
and Atlantic Canada, said “When there’s synergies,
there’s usually loss of employment.”
If the deal gets regulatory
approval in Canada, the United States
and the European Union, Inco will become the world’s fifth largest mining
company. The new powerhouse, headquartered in Toronto, will have an estimated nickel output
annually of 738 million pounds, with forecasts of 1 billion pounds by 2009, and
an estimated 1.33 billion pounds of copper, with forecasts of 2.4 billion
pounds by 2009.
Company executives are looking
to meet the growing demand for nickel and copper in China. Alas, meeting the needs of
miners, present and future, does not rank very high in
the mineral giants’ business plan.
Fight mould with walkout, OPSEU
public service workers may have to walk off the job to get the government to repair
unsafe, aged buildings, said Leah Casselman, President of the Ontario Public
Service Employees’ Union.
Speaking to a news conference
in Toronto in late August, Casselman described the decrepit state of many of
the 6,000 provincially owned buildings which presents a health and safety
threat. The result is that government workers endure serious fluctuating
environmental conditions, substandard electrical wiring, unsafe elevators, and
most of all mould. It took worker walk outs at courthouses in west end Toronto (Etobicoke) and Newmarket
(north of Toronto)
to force closure of substandard buildings.
Casselman said one of the worst
buildings is the Ontario Archives, where she said mould not only threatens
employees but the history of the province. The state of Ontario’s jails is deplorable,
reported Daryl Pitfield, an OPSEU health and safety rep. The biggest complaint
from correctional workers is air quality.
An earlier Toronto Star story
revealed that Ontario
government buildings need at least $500 million in repairs because of decades
of neglect and lack of funding. Some governments will do anything, other than
tax the rich, to appear to balance a budget.
all about how you slice the, uh, crumbs.
The World Bank says the number
of people living on less than $1 a day fell to 1.1 billion in 2001 from 1.5
billion in 1981.
But it also revealed that the
number living on less than $2 a day increased to 2.7 billion from 2.4 billion
More to the point, the United
Nations Development Program said another 1.7 billion people could be living on
$2 a day by 2015 if current trends continue. (For the expression “current
trends,” just substitute the words “global capitalism.”)
bulwark against barbarism” in Asia?
The state renown (or infamous)
for defying United Nations’ resolutions on withdrawal from occupied
territories, and for its apartheid-like separation wall in the West Bank, is
now seeking a seat on the U.N. Security Council. Consider it a step in line
with United States’
renovation plans for the world body, or call it sheer chutzpah,
has for the first time applied for a seat on the council that votes on war and
By U.N. definition, Israel falls within Asia,
where it does not get much regional backing. In fact, it is customary for Israel to be on
the losing end of lopsided votes in the U.N. General Assembly. But diplomats of
the Zionist state are working on a plan.
In May of 2000, Israel accepted a geo-political move to the “West
European and others” category, to which Canada
and the United States
belong. In 2004, Israel’s
temporary membership there was indefinitely extended.
And if possession
of nuclear weapons of mass destruction count for anything, its prospects
for promotion could be on the rise.
Theodor Herzl, the founder of
political Zionism, wrote early in the twentieth century, “For Europe, we
would constitute a bulwark against Asia down there, we would be the advance post of civilization against
Obviously, the next step is
simply to formalize it, at the U.N.