Working people in action in Ontario and Quebec to defeat Harper government. “We must all be concerned and worried by the conservative government’s arrogant attitude towards Canadian workers, an attitude that will be accentuated if they are re-elected.”
Democratic Renewal (April 7) – Two articles in the March 2015 edition of The Canadian Sailor, publication of the Seafarers’ International Union of Canada, call for workers to be active in this year’s federal election for their own interests and to defeat the Harper government.
“With the Federal Election mere months away we often find ourselves reflecting on the past four years while at the same time trying to reach conclusions on what the next four hold for us and our families,” writes Jim Given, SIU of Canada President. Given concludes that this federal election “is about ridding Ottawa of the arrogance and contempt that this Conservative Government brings to our Country.”
The articles provide examples of the government’s nation-wrecking – how it has dismantled public authority and turned it over to private interests along with the human and material resources of the country. “Every single day I read something that makes me wonder just what is going on in this Country. It makes me fear for the future of not only my own children, but for the younger generation as well. Where will they find a job? How will they ever be able to afford a home? Will they be able to raise a family?” asks Given.
In his article, “It’s Time to Save Canada’s Working Class,” Given points out the facts about Canada today: low employment and labour force participation, more part-time employment, inequality, lower corporate taxes, stagnant wages, and reduced social protections amid higher corporate profits and CEO salaries. The article further describes the deep cuts to services for veterans, attacks on unions and the public postal service.
Given notes that the government’s “racism and bigotry directed at Muslims is growing at an alarming rate. Larry Miller, Conservative MP from Owen Sound, went as far as to say if immigrants didn’t want to conform then they could ‘go to hell back to where they came from!’“
Another article by Patrice Caron, SIU Executive Vice-President argues that “More than ever, Canadian workers have the right to be heard and it is important that they send their message. You now know the direction taken by the conservative government and its agenda of anti-union measures and the lack of respect they constantly demonstrate for the middle class. We must all be concerned and worried by the conservative government’s arrogant attitude towards Canadian workers, an attitude that will be accentuated if they are re-elected.”
Caron writes that the SIU will “provide you with further information on the means at your disposal to change the appalling situation currently prevailing at the House of Commons. It is highly important for workers to recover the rights that are rightfully theirs, such as the right to fair and equitable representation as well as the right to negotiate working conditions and the right to strike…”
Part of this strategy, the seafarers say, is “to prioritize the strategic or tactical voting suggested by the SIU and many other unions.” This involves determining in each riding which candidates can defeat the Harper Conservative candidate.
The government is using Bill C-51 and other new anti-terrorism legislation to attack the rights of the people and undermine their organizations…
SIU President Given points out how the government is using Bill C-51 and other new anti-terrorism legislation to attack the rights of the people and undermine their organizations:
“According to the Conservatives we should be afraid to walk the streets! There is danger lurking behind every corner and they are the only ones who can save us! And how will they save us? They will save us by taking away our freedom of expression and human rights. By labelling every organization that holds an anti-government demonstration as potential threats to ‘security.’ This Government will detain you for an ‘idea’ or an ‘ideal’ that it does not agree with. They will monitor your phone and communications, and share your personal information with other nations without your knowledge or consent,” he says.
Concluding, Given affirms, “This Election is not about FEAR or TERROR! This election is about saving the working class! It is about saving democracy and transparency… This Election is about our children, it is about giving them a fighting chance to find a good job and raise a family, buy a house and be a part of their community. It is about bringing Canada back to what it is: a Nation of tolerant and accepting people, a country built on immigration and democracy.”
Protests in Montreal and St. Catharines
Seafarers protests called for the defeat of the Harper government and its neo-liberal Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with Europe in St. Catharines on April 1 and Montreal April 2.
The workers have been keeping up their regular pickets against the government since leading a militant protest against CETA on Parliament Hill on September 26, 2014.
The SIU of Canada noted via its Facebook page, “The demonstrations are having a real impact with the general public and getting the attention of Government. More and more workers from different industries are asking about our issues and joining in!” The March 2015 issue of The Canadian Sailor says, “Seafarers’ International Union of Canada continues its fight against the Canadian-European Union Comprehensive and Economic Trade Agreement (CETA). The Government’s lack of transparency has resulted in the general public and most politicians, municipal and provincial alike, not knowing and understanding what is outlined in CETA and what the consequences will be for many Canadian industries.
“President Given and members of the Canadian Maritime and Supply Chain Coalition, which includes unions in Europe, Australia and the U.S., have been meeting with government officials at all levels to fight the agreement.
“To raise awareness, the coalition and SIU members continue to stage public demonstrations to call attention to the pact and share information.”
Montreal, April 2, 2015
(S.I.U. of Canada)
Cabotage and the Coasting Trade Act
– The Canadian Sailor, March, 2015 –
Coasting trade refers to Canada’s domestic commercial marine activity. It includes the carriage of goods and passengers between Canadian points as well as any other marine activity of a commercial nature in Canadian waters. Above the continental shelf of Canada these activities must be in relation to the exploration, exploitation or transportation of mineral or non-living natural resources of the continental shelf.
The Coasting Trade Act supports domestic marine interests by reserving the coasting trade of Canada to Canadian registered vessels, with limited exemptions. The legislation provides an administrative process to temporarily import a foreign vessel under a coasting trade license when a suitable Canadian registered vessel is not available, and in the case of the transportation of passengers, also when no identical or similar adequate marine service is offered.
Priority to engage in Canada’s coasting trade is given in the following order:
- Canadian registered, duty paid, vessels;
- Canadian registered, non-duty paid, vessels under licence;
- Foreign vessels under licence.
The definitions of key terms can be found in section 2 of the Coasting Trade Act. This text drawn from the site of Transport Canada is illustrated to inform SIU members and other readers of the rules governing the transport of commodities and passengers in Canadian waters. The Coasting Trade Act presently in effect makes it possible for Canadian companies owning ships registered in Canada and trading under the Canadian Flag to provide reliable and efficient transportation of cargoes and passengers. The Coasting Trade Act has also made it possible for Canadian companies to thrive and prosper thanks to their crews of Canadian sailors.
To work aboard vessels registered in Canada and maintain their employment, Canadian sailors have been required to obtain and maintain professional certificates of competency in their respective classifications. The SIU and the shipping companies have combined their resources to provide the required training which has resulted in making shipping aboard Canadian flagged vessels the safest and most environmentally friendly mode of transportation in Canada.
This is why we believe it is of paramount importance to preserve and maintain in effect Canada’s Coasting Trade Act and ensure that shipping in Canadian waters be reserved to Canadian flagged vessels crewed by Canadian sailors.
We also believe that the European Union (EU) plans to use the CETA Agreement to ultimately have access to maritime shipping in the United States of America. We pertinently know the CETA Agreement will allow European ship owners or enterprises outside the EU owned and controlled by EU nationals to bypass the Canadian Coasting Trade Act, steal your jobs and eventually move in American waters and avoid the provisions of the US Jones Act.
The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) having been adopted, European ship owners will have as much power to define the shipping laws in Canadian waters as Canadian taxpayers.
We ensure you that they will find us in their way.
Source: Democratic Renewal, April 7, 2015 • No. 53