He was a political representative of the financial elite and a neo-liberal champion of its anti-union, anti-worker, anti-social and anti-national offensive. The media and political parties of the establishment are politicizing and manipulating the death of Jim Flaherty, giving the battle-cry “Glory to the Harper agenda – to its heroes glory!” | TONY SEED
(Apr. 11, revised Apr. 13, 15) – THE MEDIA is going non-stop in its eulogizing of Jim Flaherty, who passed away suddenly on April 10. Until his retirement recently, Flaherty had been federal finance minister since the 2006 electoral coup that brought the Harper government to power and one its most powerful and prominent figures. On the basis of a motion by NDP leader Thomas Mulcair, the House of Commons immediately suspended its regular business on the afternoon of April 10 and devoted a session to tributes from all parties before adjourning. Opposition MPs reportedly hugged Conservative MPs. Media accounts highlighted plaudits from the major banks, which they called “the business community.” “I will miss working with Jim,” TD Bank president Ed Clark gushed. “I greatly admired his passion for improving the lives of Canadians.” The media created online books of condolences.
The dominant media and political discourse advances the view that regardless of one’s individual views on Flaherty’s policies and budgets, he had human qualities; he “put partisanship aside” in the common pursuit of “growing the Canadian economy,” and hence “politicians of all stripes are mourning him.” The illusion is spun that capitalism can be reformed and saved from its basic contradictions through fiscal and budgetary policies such as those implemented by Flaherty that generally reduce state investments in social programs and increase the amount given directly to finance capital.
Further, CBC TV exclaims that, “Our finance minister is being remembered around the world” and is “globally respected.” The tributes emanate exclusively from the ranks of the rich G-8 countries, which are presented as “the international community.” They include the globalist International Monetary Fund and Jack Lew, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, who stated Flaherty made “sure that workers had a chance to retire with dignity” — a bald-faced lie: the US government itself has declared the next generation of workers shall have no pensions. The new U.S. ambassador to Canada, Bruce Heyman, issued a statement; extolling Flaherty’s long tenure, in “one of government’s most demanding roles,” he declared “that he did so during challenging economic times makes his achievement all the more impressive.”
It is hardly fortuitous that Prime Minister Stephen Harper has ordered flags to be flown at half mast for his right-hand man, and a state funeral is to be held on Wednesday, April 16th at St. James Cathedral of the Church of England in Toronto, an extremely rare event in the political life of Canada and normally reserved for deceased governor-generals and prime ministers. The cynical maneouvre comes at a time the Conservatives are wracked with scandal and are railroading a bill through the Commons and the Senate, Bill C-23, that destroys Canada’s electoral process to favour their own re-election.
Perhaps haunted by the memory of retired and active Canadian workers demonstrating in front of Flaherty’s campaign office in Whitby-Oshawa (e.g., CAW retired auto workers, steelworkers), CBC TV asked rhetorically later in the day, “How should Canadians remember him,” as if it had not already made up its mind. Tributes and comments from labour, social and community leaders were noticeable by their absence.
CBC further amended its non-stop stream of tributes and suggested its pursuit was one of “discussing his life and legacy” – although it seems clear to me that the media had its minds made up as to the content of this “discussion” and “debate.” Speaking with a straight face, one staffer referred to Flaherty in hagiographic terms as “Saint Jim.”
I am giving my views, which are initial and by no means definitive, and encourage everyone else to give theirs in the spirit of “Let’s discuss, join in!” The first step is to participate in discussing the significance of these developments and analyzing what is the space for change so as to occupy it
It is deeply disturbing that the media and political parties of the establishment are politicizing and manipulating the death of Jim Flaherty to give the battle-cry “Glory to the Harper agenda – to its heroes glory!” Flaherty mounted a vicious offensive against the working class. They paint an abstract portrait that is both a combination of a merciless exploiter “who did what was necessary as there was no alternative” and a man who gives such a program a human face and who presided over a fantastic and imagined country with a sound economy without any pressing social, economic or political problems.
A brief review of some of the main features of Flaherty’s record shows that he should be held responsible for economic damage, wrecking Canada, criminalizing Canadian workers and repeated war budgets. He was a political representative of the financial elite and a neo-liberal champion of its anti-union, anti-worker, anti-social and anti-national offensive.
Acolyte of the Thatcher and Reaganite policies
By profession, Flaherty was a corporate lawyer for twenty years, a founding partner of Flaherty Dow Elliott after splitting from Gilbert Wright and Flaherty before entering politics in Ontario in the 1990 provincial election, where he ran third. Flaherty was one of those who arose to prominence as part of the Mike Harris “common sense revolution” in Ontario during the early 1990s. These individuals were acolytes of the Thatcher-Reaganite anti-social, imperialist policies introduced in Britain and the USA in the 1980s. In its major review on the occasion of the death of Margaret Thatcher almost precisely one year before Flaherty’s own death, TML Weekly Information Project pointed out:
“Harris tried to imitate what Margaret Thatcher promised in the eighties: to create a group of people in whose interests it would be to support her policies. Besides the most powerful monopolies, Thatcher promised that it would assist ‘the middle class.’ Throughout the eighties, the straightforward plan of robbing the state through privatization was implemented and it definitely favoured the private interests, which took over the public assets. However, it did not turn out to be favourable for the ‘middle strata,’ the good to better paid sections of the working class and small owners of capital. As a result of the economic crises of the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Conservatives in Britain slipped into oblivion with Thatcher herself suffering a rebellion within her own Party. The Labour Party gained support as Tony Blair created ‘New Labour’ based on promises to succeed where Margaret Thatcher failed.
“Mike Harris failed as well in this plan to create a happy and prosperous ‘middle class’ that would sing his praises and curse the working class. He did not succeed. The project of pleasing the ‘middle class’ and providing balance and equilibrium was taken over by Dalton McGuinty in Ontario, the Harper government federally, and now forms the greatest wish of the NDP under Thomas Mulcair and is the premise of Justin Trudeau’s appeal to Canadians to elect him the next Prime Minister of Canada.” (April 13, 2014, No. 14)
After being elected, he was successively Minister of Labour (1997-99) in the notorious Harris government, Solicitor-General and Minister of Correctional Services (1997-99) with responsibility for Native Affairs (i.e., inmates and Indians), Attorney General (to 2001), and Minister of Finance and Deputy Premier (2001-2002), when he was demoted by Ernie Eaves to a lesser post. (The Ontario legislature also adjourned in his honour.)
Only a man with no social conscience or responsibility could call for jailing the homeless, as he did during his vain campaign for leadership of the Ontario Conservative party in 2002, which focused on “law and order” themes as well as privatization of the lucrative Ontario Liquor Control Board and other agencies.
Flaherty was defeated again in 2005 in his second bid for the Conservative leadership by the Bay Street corporate lawyer John Tory.
The Conservative Party is not a genuine political party in an traditional sense of the word, but a coalition of different factions across Canada of the ruling elite led by the Harper autocracy together with powerful mayors. It is in a faction that Jim Flaherty found new life, which is enabled by the cartel party system, because factions within one party or a combination of parties serve an agenda dictated by the monopolies and stand for virtually the same anti-social and anti-national things. Along with other cohorts such as John Baird and Tony Clement of the failed Harris “common sense revolution,” which had been fought tooth and nail by the Ontario working class – this gang joined forces with Harper from the Canadian Alliance (Reform Party) at the federal level, where they brought about an electoral coup d’etat.
The trajectory of his career was distinguished by personal ambition and striving for power. Harper had lost the 2004 federal election to the Paul Martin Liberals. According to Wikipedia,
“On June 13, 2005, the Canadian news website bourque.org reported that a meeting of prominent Conservative organizers and fundraisers had been held to plan for a Flaherty bid for the leadership of the federal party should Stephen Harper resign.”
Nevertheless, he only narrowly won election in Whitby-Oshawa in 2006 before serving the Harper agenda as federal minister of finance from 2006-2014. (His wife Christine Elliott inherited his provincial seat in the provincial legislature.)
The glue that bonded Flaherty’s team of cronies was money and access to the federal treasury. According to Wikipedia:
The Toronto Star determined that several people who supported Flaherty when he was an Ontario cabinet minister or who supported his two failed bids to lead the Ontario Tories were awarded employment contracts or given appointments. The employment contracts awarded were under the $25,000 Treasury Board contract bidding limit. Bronwen Evans received a $24,877.50 contract to write speeches for Flaherty from June 2006 until last February.David Curtain, who worked on Flaherty’s Ontario leadership campaign, received $24,877.50 to write the finance minister’s first budget speech. Curtain was also paid $3,350 to write a keynote address earlier in 2008 for Flaherty. Lawyer James Love, who donated $63,000 to Flaherty over two leadership campaigns, was appointed to the Royal Canadian Mint. Another Flaherty donor, Carol Hansell, was appointed to the board of directors of the Bank of Canada in October 2006. Toronto family law lawyer Sara Beth Mintz, an Ontario Progressive Conservative Party vice-president, received $24,900 for budget “analysis, assessment and advice.”
By virtue of his appointment as Minister of Finance in 2006, Flaherty also became a Governor of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, which has done so much damage to the economies of dependent countries, including Europe. Far from being covered with glory internationally, he is the most denounced Canadian in modern history, given that every G8 Summit has been met with massive protests wherever it has convened.
Flaherty was further designated federal minister in charge of the Greater Toronto area. He is a major backer of its criminal mayor, Rob Ford, who is described as a family friend. He is one of the architects of the strategy of the Harperites to capture the largest city in Canada, the centre of the workers’ battle against privatization, where billions are to be spent on infrastructure such as transit and real estate development, and possessing the largest police force. Flaherty bears major responsibility for the fascist assault on the mass demonstrations opposing the G8-G20 Summit in June 2010 and the criminal arrests of over 1,000 Canadians. In 2013 the Snowden revelations included the exposure of an American espionage operation conducted from the premises of the U.S. Embassy on the participating foreign delegations, who were meeting on Canadian soil. Flaherty’s slavish acquiescence further reveals the role of the Harper gang as a fifth columnist for the United States.
Working Canadians will not be shedding a tear for Flaherty. At one such demonstration at his office in 2011, Len Harrison, the chair of the CAW Retired Workers Executive, stated, “Flaherty stabbed us in the back. Instead of doing what he promised to do for pensioners so that CPP rises slowly so that everybody has a pension, he backed off and now he wants it to go to his friend, the financial community.”
Disinformation on Flaherty’s budgets
The hagiographic sanctification of Flaherty’s reign aims to obscure both the direction of the Canadian state as well as to insinuate that the continuous resistance waged by the Canadian people has been merely a matter of objection to this or that individual “policy” adopted as part of the overall good of “growing the economy.” The central element of the sanctification of Flaherty is falsification of history and heroization of this individual.
In almost exclusively epic terms, the ex-finance minister is applauded for “rescuing” Canada from the 2008 recession through his so-called “stimulus” budget in early 2009. Harper and Flaherty repeatedly stated in a dismissive tone to Canadians: These demands for social programs – unemployment insurance, pensions for all including veterans, a national child care system and public Medicare and Pharmacare and and other means to ensure people’s well-being – are simply not affordable. Writers Scott Clark and Peter DeVries point out that, a year earlier, Flaherty made the biggest mistake ever made by a finance minister in denying that Canada was going into a recession. In reality, millions of Canadians bitterly remember the consequences of being forced to “bite the bullet.” In reality, there was no shortage of public resources which could have been mobilized to alleviate the brutality of the effects of the economic crisis.
Further, the Harper-Flaherty mania to reduce corporate taxes and then make the resultant deficits and debt – as opposed to the mantra of the so-called “balanced budget” – a diversionary issue became a preferred political and ideological weapon in their assault on the Canadian people. Flaherty’s budgets came to be described as “non-ideological,” because he had the wisdom to budget for a deficit. The disinformation includes stories and gossip as to how he expressed his “compassionate conservatism” or how he “stood up” to Harper as well as to the demands of extremist centres such as the Fraser Institute and Frontier Centre, who called for deep wage cuts, etc., to eliminate the deficit. By seeming to follow his own prescription and heart, not those of the extremists, Flaherty could pretend his budgets were “moderate,” “mainstream,” “non-partisan” and “non-ideological” – not right-wing extremist, conservative or ideological instruments of big capital.
Flaherty’s early 2009 budget opened the coffers with a $40-billion stimulus package. Resources were mobilized by the state for private, not public ends, and then this is declared “saving Canada.” And that is declared not ideological!
Speaking of the essence of Flaherty’s last federal budget, TML Daily pointed out:
“Falling federal program spending beginning with the Liberal governments of Chretien and Martin and now Harper has sunk to 13 per cent of the gross domestic product, the lowest percentage in over 70 years. Billions of dollars in program cuts from last year’s budget are set to begin. Along with the current budget’s program spending freeze, this will reduce overall program spending on health, education, aboriginal and veterans’ affairs, etc., to levels not seen since the pre-WWII period.
“Everyone is now familiar with the reductions in Employment Insurance and the denuding of regulations and collapse of a public authority that is supposed to protect the people’s food supply, transportation system and other features of a modern society. The essence of the measures to destroy social programs and public services is to wreck any public authority that serves to protect the well-being and security of Canadians and restrict monopoly right.” (“Harper’s Capital-Centred Federal Budget,” February 13, 2014, No. 13)
Nick Fillmore points out that the contribution to affordable housing was $3.6 billion in 2010. It has fallen to $2 billion, and will fall further to $1.8 billion by 2016. Under Flaherty/Harper, the government severely cut funds for health care, removing transfers of some $36 billion to the provinces over 10 years. This amounts to a 52 per cent cut reduction over six years, when there’s more need than ever for affordable housing. In 1996, the maximum unemployment weekly benefit was $604, while today’s average benefit is just $335 per week. On the other hand, they lowered corporate income taxes, losing an average of $6 billion in annual revenue, and continue to cut income taxes, costing $3 billion more.
Instead of program spending on the well-being of the Canadian people and nation-building, Flaherty’s capital-centred budgets diverted increasing amounts of public funds to private interests. This has been done openly by funneling public money to the monopolies – for example, to the foreign, mainly U.S. auto monopolies through his innovation fund – and in a more hidden fashion by providing private interests with public funds from the federal treasury using public-private partnerships to build infrastructure and prepare for war.
One of the most common instruments promoted by Flaherty was neo-liberal privatization. In 2009, a new agency was created, PPP Canada, that required municipalities to “partner” with corporations to finance and or deliver public infrastructure and services for a profit. The initial budget was one billion dollars. The 2013 Budget contained a new Building Canada Plan for the construction of public infrastructure such as roads, bridges, transit and port facilities, much of which are designed as a component part of the preparations for war, the rapid movement of goods and materials, etc. The plan provided $53 billion in investments to support local, pay-the-rich, infrastructure projects, including more than $47 billion in new funding over 10 years, starting in 2014–2015
Criminalizing Canadian workers
The Hamilton Steelworkers, Air Canada and Canada Post workers together with Vale, Xstrata and Resolute Forest Products (AbitibiBowater) workers throughout Canada all had to take bold steps to defend their rights against both executive thieves and the Harper dictatorship, in whose court Flaherty held front and centre.
The 2011 airline workers’ strike exemplifies Flaherty’s agit-prop role and how he used his privileged position as a minister of the crown against working people. Even though the damage to the economy from the strike was directly the fault of Air Canada and labour relations is not a finance ministerial responsibility, Flaherty publicly joined Labour Minister Lisa Raitt in supporting the preparations for back-to-work legislation to criminalize the workers. Can this be called a human quality? Through unjust and disruptive Parliamentary and bureaucratic measures to negate the rights of airline as well as postal workers, the state machine led by the Harperites stood exposed as a tool of the owners of big capital against the working class.
Air Canada, for instance, sought to use its dominant position to renege on its pension obligations and impose a two-tier workplace, even though these obligations were a condition for the court’s acceptance of the plan of arrangement provided by Air Canada for it not to seek bankruptcy protection (which it also used to make a big score on the workers’ backs).
Flaherty publicly acknowledged his direct responsibility. “I’ve been very mindful of the Air Canada situation. I was involved in it back in 2009 when we worked out an agreement with the unions and management about the pension situation to buy some time –several years – with respect to the pension issue there. But this is of economic consequence. I’m pleased that the Minister of Labour is going to act.”
The fact that the government of Canada, and Flaherty personally, participated in brokering that plan of arrangement means that they neglected their duty to defend the workers as well as being in blatant conflict of interest. Workers have every reason to hold him and the government to account.
Jim Flaherty also pretended that he was for Canada. He fought covertly and covertly all those who advanced proposals to build a self-reliant economy and nation. His defence of Canada did not amount to upholding the sovereignty of the Canadian people, the peoples of the Americas or the world. On the contrary, his defence of Canada reflected the striving of Canadian monopoly capitalism to participate in U.S. empire building with the aim of global domination.
Parenthetically, his much touted “Irishness” was a empty self-advertisement handed down from his capitalist ancestors in northern New Brunswick, a region ruined by the savage UI cutbacks and capitalist regional disparities, that he used to oppose the struggle of the Irish people against British colonialism and justify the imposition of the IMF agenda on the Irish Republic.
As the most powerful politician from Ontario, the finance minister, together with his colleagues such as the Industry Minister, have colluded in the ongoing nation-wrecking of the economy and the destruction of manufacturing, which tears apart the lives of Canadian working people and their families. On the other hand, they have inked secret agreements with such monopolies as U.S. Steel that facilitate their criminal exploitation, plunder and nation-wrecking.
These monopolies, from U.S. Steel, Air Canada, Canada Post, though to the auto, forest, agricultural and fisheries monopolies cite their alleged concern for the economy – which they call “making Canada competitive” – to justify using their dominant position in the economy to extort concessions from the workers as they shut down or restrict production. Instead of holding the companies to account, Flaherty and the Harper government joined them in citing concern for the economy and intervened to criminalize or isolate the workers and let the companies off scot-free.
Flaherty and his fellow Ontario ministers declared in 2011, in the words of Tony Clement, that “now U.S. Steel can do whatever they want.”
U.S. Steel took over Stelco Inc. and shut down its Hamilton and Lake Erie plants in 2009, putting 1500 workers out of work for refusing to kowtow to the concessions it demanded. It again closed the Stelco works, seemingly for good, in 2013 in violation of all its contractural commitments under the Foreign Investment Review Act.
Local 1005 of the United Steelworkers Union courageously drew a line in the sand on the pension issue, concessions, the wrecking of manufacturing and the necessity of steel production as a national asset of the Canadian economy.
The stand of the steelworkers had forced the federal government to take U.S. Steel to court several years ago; they negotiated a secret 31-page agreement, only one page of which has only come to light through a Freedom of Information request.
Instead of responding to the union’s measured proposals that have won the support of the Hamilton civic government and community, the Harper and Wynne governments have been cowardly facilitating the destruction of Stelco. The production of steel is essential for any modern national economy. Canada requires 16 million tons of steel a year; even before the announced closure of a 2 million ton capacity in Hamilton, it only produced 10 million tons is a huge problem. Now Canada is forced to import an additional 8 million tons annually. The cratering of manufacturing, especially in Ontario and Quebec, lessens the amount of wealth workers produce and the amount available for social programs, and pushes the annexation of Canada into the U.S. empire.
The steelworker’s newsletter, Information Update, points out:
“Since invading Canada in 2007 to seize control of the Stelco steel complex, U.S. Steel has pushed its politics of doom. It has preached the futility of steel production in Hamilton … U.S. Steel sees the destruction of steel production in Canada as a means to weaken competition for steel production at its plants in the United States, which for many years have had low levels of capacity utilization.”
Yet Flaherty capitulated to and laid down with U.S. steal, rather than standing with steel and Canada’s producers.
Budgets for annexation and war by a rogue state
While overall program spending has been slashed, as noted above, Flaherty more than doubled the federal military budget in the past eight years from the annual $11 billion spent by the Paul Martin Liberals.
In 2008, the Canada Defence First Policy was adopted. It provided a major new military investment plan that detailed hundreds of billions of dollars in military capital acquisitions, including new ships, helicopters, fighter jets, armoured vehicles and more. In order to prevent any discussion, the policy was surreptitiously announced on a Friday afternoon on a federal website after parliament adjourned for the federal election that year. This vast sum represents the social product produced by the Canadian working class and people, which is being used to finance the destruction of the lives and productive capacity of the targeted countries.
The military budget is far greater than officially represented. Flaherty followed a cold war policy of hiding military and para-military expenditures in his budgets. Harper-Baird despatched an estimated $680 million in “non lethal aid” to the terrorist forces in Syria, provided some $70,000 “emergency aid” to the armed forces fighting on the Maiden weeks before the coup, and are providing another $220 million to impose a failed state in Ukraine. Expenses of the coast guard, much of which is para-military, are accredited to Fisheries and Oceans. Aid and development are increasingly militarized.
Flaherty’s tenure in office spanned the transition from the Bush to the Obama regime and from the doctrine of pre-emptive war to that of the drone warfare doctrine. In parallel, the Harper war government now stresses the use of NGOs, covert ops and special forces and the retrenchment and “transformation” of military forces. It promotes within NATO the U.S. demand for the EU to assume more and more the burden of the financing of the military bloc. It resurrects fascist and Hitlerite theories such as “Might Is Right” and the “Opening to the East,” giving them official credibility, etc.
This shift in doctrine is being camouflaged as “a shift in procurement policies” as Flaherty intervened in February, 2014 to put numerous “big ticket” armament acquisitions have been put on hold, perhaps as a reserve for a pending election, and factional fighting has deepened within the state over these expenditures.
The Harper war government in league with U.S. imperialism and in collusion and contention with other big powers has launched successive and mounting covert and overt attacks throughout the world, from Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Mali and now Ukraine and Venezuela. At the time of the vote on Libya, TML Daily pointed out that this unanimity of all the major parties for both the Libya aggression and bellicose activity in Ukraine confirms that this is a war government. The liberal-fascist alliance spelled the end of bourgeois democracy. It clearly shows Canadians that their anti-war stand has no representatives in the Parliament of Canada.
Through its little-known sponsorship of the NATO Information and Documentation Centre in Kiev, it co-ordinated over 240 NATO military operations involving Ukrainian armed forces in a single year, sent political and legal forces to Kiev to incite the fascist putsch of Feb. 22, is inciting ethnic, religious, linguistic divisions to foment reactionary civil war under the pretext of “invasion,” training the Polish, Lithuanian and Latvian military, and intriguing in Rumania, Moldova and Georgia to transform the strategic Black Sea into an American lake. The ongoing assaults are leaving terrible destruction and human suffering in their wake with the crimes against humanity prettified as a fight for democracy and human rights.
Flaherty has put budget after budget in the service of the Union of North American Monopolies in this drive for global domination, especially through Obama’s Asia-Pivot strategy which is aimed at the People’s Republic of China and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. This is characterized by the militarization of the economy, creation of the North American Security Perimeter, integration of the armed forces and their deployment to the farthest reaches of the U.S. Empire, the doubling of special forces, and a network of seven overseas military “hubs” across what is described as “the arc of instability.”
Further, Flaherty has designated an estimated $100 billion to be earmarked for a multi-year program to build an entirely new fleet of bluewater naval warships and coast guard vessels to open up the North West Passage for the private, mainly U.S. oil and gas monopolies.
Additional billions of dollars are being expended on the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic coasts for so-called “gateway” schemes – involving the modernization of port and inter-modular transportation infrastructure – to speed up the transport of goods, resources and military personnel and armaments from overseas to the American heartland and vice-versa, as well as pipelines.
It is because of the profound anti-war sentiment of the Canadian people that the cartel of war parties with Harper-Baird-Flaherty-MacKay at the head are acting in the name of peace, democracy, human rights and rule of law. Canadians need to denounce these self-serving arguments and see the necessity to set their own political agenda, which will lead to the establishment of an anti-war government.
On October 4, 2011 Flaherty introduced Bill C-13, An Act to Implement Certain Provisions of the 2011 Budget as Updated on June 6, 2011 and Other Measures. The name of the bill gave the impression that it dealt strictly with the funding of individual government programs. However, this was not the case. It included substantial changes to the Canada Pension Plan including schemes to establish individual savings plans in place of public pensions, changes to international trade regulations, the Canada Human Rights Act and the Canada Elections Act. Although not referred to as such, it was in effect an omnibus bill (644 pages long and divided into 22 parts) and contained broad changes to the Canadian state.
Introducing the bill, Flaherty stated: “Our Government is focused on what matters to Canadians – creating jobs and promoting economic growth. While Canada has the strongest job growth record in the G-7 with nearly 600,000 net new jobs created since July 2009 and the IMF projects that we will have among the strongest economic growth in the G-7 over the next two years, we are not immune from global economic turbulence. That’s why we need to stay the course and implement the Next Phase of Canada’s Economic Action Plan.” In an attempt to prevent any substantial discussion on the direction in which the bill takes Canada, on October 6 the government moved to limit debate on the bill to three sitting days even though it controlled a majority in the parliament. The imposition of the Omnibus bill by royal decree and the machinations involved backed by draconian legislation reveals the tendency to an open dictatorship of the most powerful rich and their monopolies.
The fight to affirm the rights of all is the only road forward for humanity and the only way our individual and collective security can be upheld and guaranteed.
The necessity for a workers’ opposition
The challenge people face is to unite to stop and turn around this anti-social direction of the Harper government that puts the demands and narrow private interests of the global monopolies ahead of Canadians and the public interest.
The refusal of the global monopolies and their political representatives such as the finance minister to recognize public right and the rights of the actual producers, the working class, created disequilibrium in the country. Disequilibrium is reflected in the inability and unwillingness of the global monopolies and political class to solve the economic crisis in favour of the people. Even worse, the global monopolies and political class are using the crisis as an excuse to extort concessions, consolidate their economic and political power and block the working class from assuming positions of authority to put into practice its own pro-social program and agenda to resolve problems and the crisis in a manner that serves the interests of the people and society.
The Canadian economy is affected by both conscious and spontaneous factors. Government intervention in the economy through budgets and policies such as free trade can directly affect the spontaneous factors. The conscious and spontaneous factors set the direction of the economy for good or bad. To defend its rights and the rights of all and set a new direction for the economy that favours the people and nation-building, the working class movement has to intervene in the economy with its own program to influence the conscious and spontaneous factors.
These actions include examining the content of government intervention, such as federal, provincial and municipal budgets, and determining how the government’s conscious policies will affect the spontaneous factors and the general direction of the economy. From this analysis the working class movement can both hold the government to account for its actions and develop its grasp of its own independent agenda to intervene in the economy to defend its rights and the rights of all.
The sheer volume of the media’s amoral and ahistorical eulogy of an inhuman finance minister that will reach a crescendo around the state funeral on April 16th itself highlights the absence of a powerful and effective Workers’ Opposition that can mobilize the people for a change in the direction of the economy. The issue before Canadians is to do all they can to organize and build a Workers’ Opposition.