By TONY SEED, MLPC candidate, Nepean (Ottawa)
Today I participated in a Rogers TV “debate” of candidates from the Nepean riding, one of a series on local ridings in Ottawa. The salient feature was that not a single representative from the privileged parties voiced any just concern of the people in this “debate.” This was the first and sole “debate” scheduled that included all registered electoral candidates.
To illustrate, just the day before a high profile rally was staged on Parliament Hill by hundreds of farmers and dairy industry workers from Quebec and Ontario. The farmers were taking action in response to the resumption of secret negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) neo-liberal trade deal in Atlanta, Georgia the same day. The protest received sensational coverage in the local and national media, which emphasized some farmers who poured milk on the street to emphasize their cause as if they were litter bugs. Protests also took place that day in Abitibi and Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec.
You couldn’t have missed it! It was the largest demonstration of farmers in Ottawa in some four decades. But such is the stunning disconnect from reality that none of the candidates from the PCs, Liberals or NDP even mentioned this important struggle and action of the farmers.Evidently it is not a “local issue,” as if Nepean exists on Mars and residents are not affected by the damage to the food chain being caused by nation wrecking, the rule of private interest and the secret diplomacy and deals being negotiated behind the backs of the Canadian people by the Harper government.
On behalf of the Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada, I affirmed our party’s support for the farmers. Not only is the Party representing the missing voice of the people in this election, it is calling on them to wage their battles under the banner There Is An Alternative. People must defend their rights, become decision makers and set a new direction for the economy as the order of the day, beginning with the defeat of the Harper government and monopoly right. You can read the program here.
Louis Lang, the MLPC candidate for Pontiac, participated in the demonstration, while party activists handed out copies of Le Renouveau democratique and Democratic Renewal, the MLPC’s federal election newspapers. Many of the farmers participating in the action were from towns in Louis’ riding.
“Even without the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership), family farms in the Pontiac, Ottawa Valley and Eastern Ontario are having a lot of difficulty surviving. Family farms are under a tremendous amount of pressure,” Louis told Renewal Update. “If supply management is undermined it will have a devastating effect on their livelihood as well as destroy the economies of these regions and towns, where many enterprises exist that service farm equipment and provide repair services. This is why the farmers of the region have no choice but to fight and make sure the TPP and other neo-liberal trade agreements are not adopted by Canada,” he said.
Secret negotiations for the TPP neo-liberal trade deal have resumed this week in Atlanta, with Canada’s Minister of Trade Ed Fast joining talks today. Workers, farmers and people from all walks of life are expressing alarm at news reports revealing the extent to which the Government of Canada under Stephen Harper is prepared to sell out important sectors of the economy, social programs and public services to get in on the deal.
Mobilizations are taking place to hold the Conservatives to account and make it clear that nation-wrecking trade deals that benefit a handful of monopolies at the expense of the society will not pass.
I am publishing articles today from Renewal Update on farmers’ defence of the supply management system. Renewal Update reports that it “will continue coverage this week reporting on the stands taken to defend other sectors of the economy including by autoworkers against the TPP and in defence of their livelihoods.”
Did You Know?
The financial status of the Canadian farmer is illustrated by the following quote: “Canadian farm debt has increased greatly over the past few years. Statistics Canada data shows Canadian farm debt had climbed to $77.98 billion by the end of 2013, an increase of more than $12 billion since 2010.” Here is the source: http://www.country-guide.ca/…/farm-debt-ratio-in…/45272/
Statistics Canada states: “While there were 280,043 farms in 1991, according to the Census of Agriculture, by 2011, that number had gradually declined to 205,730.” Doing the math…..that would mean every farmer is in debt in Canada…to the tune of more than $379,000. So, if there are millionaire farmers out there (and there will be some), just what kinda debt load is everyone else carrying?
Couple this with a potential interest rate hike of say 1 per cent, that could very well mean a 60 per cent (or more) increase in interest payments a month. And they do it for the same reasons a doctor should be in medicine, and for SOOOO much less.
September 27 marked the final official day of Harper’s sellout deal which abolished the 80-year-old farmer-controlled Canada Wheat Board and gave complete control of Canada’s grain industry to a partnership of a private U.S. monopoly called Bunge and the royal family of Saudi Arabia. Thanks to Stephen Harper and his flunky Minister of Agriculture, Gerry Ritz, this key sector of Canada’s food industry is now under foreign control.
For a good account of how Bunge, Cargill, Louis-Dreyfus, Continental and Andre continue to manipulate the world grain market see Merchants of Grain by Dan Morgan (1976). Reissued 2000. There appears to be an online PDF download.
(Thanks to Dougal MacDonald’s Timeline on Facebook)