Thursday, December 4, 2008

CANADA: Dump Tories to solve crisis

Dump the Harper Tories NOW!

Fight for New Policies that Put People First!

The federal Conservatives under PM Stephen Harper are teetering on the verge of shattering defeat, six short weeks after the October 14 general election. They fully deserve to be thrown out of office in next Monday's non-confidence vote. The Communist Party of Canada joins with labour and other forces in calling for the defeat of this government.

Contrary to the 'spin-doctoring' coming out of the Prime Minister's Office, the present governmental crisis erupted not because of some conspiratorial intrigue cooked up on the Opposition benches, but rather because of the Tories' own unmitigated arrogance and conceit, and their own stunning indifference to the fears and concerns of working people as the capitalist economic crisis deepens, threatening the jobs, benefits, pensions and social welfare of millions of Canadian workers.

Last Thursday's economic update presented by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty exposed the anti-working class, right-wing, pro-corporate nature of the Conservative government. Flaherty's 'mini-budget provoked the current impasse when it failed miserably to address the people's concerns through legislative protections and stimulative public spending. Instead, the Harper government used the deepening economic crisis as an excuse to opportunistically launch a frontal assault on the public sector through its plan to sell off $3.4 billion in public assets to its corporate friends; by limiting federal wages and 'suspending' the right to strike for federal employees; by attacking pay equity for women; and by cancelling the Party Financing Act, upon which the large political parties – especially the opposition parties – largely depend.

Wedded to their right-wing, neoconservative economic and political agenda, and arrogantly overconfident that they could survive yet another round of parliamentary 'chicken' with the opposition parties, the Harper Conservatives decided to press ahead as if they had a majority in Parliament. But as our Party stated immediately after the October election, the "Tories have no mandate to impose their right‑wing agenda on the country".

As a result of its anti-people policies and actions, the Harper government has not only lost the 'confidence' of the majority of MPs in the House; the overwhelming support by the labour and people's movements for new Liberal-NDP coalition shows that this government has also lost the confidence of most of the Canadian people.

Our Party welcomes the refusal of the opposition parties to be taken in by Harper's latest retreats (to abandon the cancellation of party financing and the ban on federal workers' right to strike), and calls on these parties to hold firm in their commitment to defeat this discredited government and to establish a new working majority in Parliament.

The defeat of the Harper Tories will mark a significant victory for working people across Canada, but while such a change is a necessary condition for real progress to address the pressing needs of the people, it will not be a sufficient condition to ensure a genuinely new direction in government policy. A new Coalition government would be highly susceptible to public pressure, and would open new doors to win pro-people policies.

Labour, Aboriginal peoples, youth and students, women, and other people's movements and organizations will need to intensify extra-parliamentary mobilizations to demand real and immediate action from any new government that emerges after Monday's vote.

In the view of the Communist Party of Canada, such an Anti-Crisis Action Plan should include:

  • protections for Canadian working people through the immediate introduction of plant closure legislation to stop the exodus of manufacturing jobs;
  • substantial public investment in auto, forestry and other vital manufacturing industries on a full financial equity basis (no corporate hand-outs), along with iron-clad guarantees preventing layoffs, job cuts, wage or pension reductions, and requiring reinvestment in the domestic economy;
  • the expansion of EI to cover all workers for the full duration of unemployment (including the elimination of the waiting period), with benefits at 90% of former earnings;
  • a moratorium on evictions and mortgage foreclosures and utility cut-off due to unemployment;
  • an immediate increase in the minimum wage to $15/hr., along with legislation to protect and improve wages, benefits and pensions for all workers, to help raise incomes and stimulate domestic consumption;
  • emergency action to improve the social and economic conditions of Aboriginal peoples;
  • a massive public investment program to construct affordable social housing, to rebuild Canada's decaying infrastructure, in environmental protection and conservation, and in job creation programs for youth and the arts;
  • sweeping progressive tax reform based on ability to pay, and the revocation of all corporate tax breaks, write-offs and deferrals at every level – measures that will shift the tax burden from working people onto the corporations and the wealthy;
  • emergency measures to protect and extend our public healthcare, education and other social programs, including the establishment of a publicly funded and administered system of universal, quality, affordable childcare with Canada-wide standard; and
  • Canada's immediate withdrawal from the disastrous war of occupation in Afghanistan, and a 50% cut in military spending.

The longer-term security and effectiveness of these immediate anti-crisis actions will in turn require more transformative measures to safeguard the jobs, incomes and services for the Canadian people, including (amongst others):

  • the democratic nationalization of the big banks, insurance and other financial institutions in Canada;
  • the nationalization of the energy industry to guarantee domestic supply and to provide the material basis for the economic rebuilding of Canadian industry and the creation of hundreds of thousands of jobs;
  • Canada's immediate withdrawal from NAFTA, a halt to the "Security and Prosperity Partnership" (SPP) negotiations, and the adoption of a much more diversified, multilateral trade policy based on mutual benefit; and
  • the introduction of a liveable, guaranteed annual income (GAI), as well as a shorter work week with no loss in take-home pay.
    Issued by the Central Executive Committee, Communist Party of Canada, December 3, 2008

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