Peace, Jobs, Wages and Democracy Must Trump Corporate Welfare, Recession and War!
Parliament reconvenes on Monday January 28th in the midst of a US-NATO war and a made-in-USA economic crisis. Prime Minister Harper’s neo-con policies of energy sell-out to the USA, NATO militarism and rampant financial speculation have placed the jobs, retirement income and standard of living of millions of Canadian working people at risk. The longer the Conservatives remain in power the worse it will get.
The opposition parties hold the hammer. They need to use it. Organized labour, the peace and democratic forces must send a message to Stephane Dion – stop propping up the right wing Harper Government that got us into this mess.
Prime Minister Harper and his crude neo-con brain trust routinely out maneuver the opposition because of Dion’s ambivalence. Harper’s appointee John Manley is a gift to the Harper Government. His report will embroil Parliament in another sterile debate, split the opposition and allow Harper to continue the war until the April NATO meeting where the Prime Minister will plead for NATO commitments that will permit him to continue Canada’s participation in this dirty war.
The opposition parties can decide on January 28th to lend themselves to Harper’s plans or end it now. To discuss the Manley Report that is supposed to help Afghans but continues to permit NATO-ISAF to kill them in large numbers is indefensible. Jack Layton has finally got it right. An entirely new Afghan policy is required, and it begins with ending Canada’s support for NATO. There is much that Canadians can do to help our Afghan friends, but none of it justifies war.
It is time to say bluntly what the Afghan War has become. The US-NATO Afghan War is a business opportunity for militarists and arms suppliers. They want it to continue. There are no windfall profits to be made from peace. Prime Minister Harper is playing a cynical game. While attaching strings to a C$1 billion aid package for one industry forest communities, the Prime Minister handed over $3.4 billion to US Boeing for four C-17 Globemaster transport planes. General Hillier wants the planes to carry tanks, soldiers and large equipment around the world without stopping. Why does Canada need a rapid deployment capability? Who is General Hillier planning to attack next?
The real enemy of the Canadian people is at home not in Afghanistan. Canadian working people need a Government that will attack unemployment, poverty, rebuild infrastructure and public housing and protect pensions, not send more troops to die in US-NATO wars. Canadians have always extended the hand of peace and friendship to all peoples. We don’t require a Conservative neo-con imperialist policy to do that. Our foreign policy should be based on making the UN work. NATO membership is a foreign policy disaster for Canada.
The Harper Government is attempting to obscure the connection between economic recession and the war policy of the Bush administration which the Conservative government supports. The made-in-USA economic recession that is spilling into Canada is the Bush Administration’s war induced monetary crisis. The Bush neo-cons encouraged banks to create consumer debt. The Bush Government then taxed it to spend on militarism and the War in Iraq. Capital was invested in speculation not the real economy and US domestic production declined. When the debt couldn’t be repaid, the system collapsed.
Prime Minister Harper is either too dull or too indifferent to understand what was happening and approved of it. It doesn’t matter – now the people are paying the price for Conservative incompetence and collusion.
After creating the mess, the Bush-Harper plan is to off load the profit losses of the banks and speculators onto the taxpayers and working people. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s budget will reward the banks, big investors and stockholders for their reckless behavior. If permitted to do so, the Harper Government will tap into the C$54 billion EI fund and the C$122 billion Canada Pension Plan to stimulate a falling stock market. The government will continue the ruinous C$3.5 million/day spending on the War in Afghanistan while freezing funding to health care, education, EI payments and child care.
Support for the Harper Government’s anti-people, social conservative pro US-NATO war policies is unjustified. The Harper Conservatives must be defeated and a new Government elected that repudiates the disastrous right-wing neo-con experiment that has poisoned public discourse, plunged Canada into recession and war and introduced autocratic forms of governance that threatens democracy and civil rights.
Every peace activist, trade unionist, left militant knows that a new direction for Canada is urgent. The new direction can be built on the consensus among Canadians for peace, made-in-Canada economic policies and an end to the tyranny of blind market forces. If even one half of what is now spent on militarizing the economy were spent on restoring crumbling infrastructure, mass public transit and public housing, the country could avoid the worst aspects of the made-in-USA recession. There is overwhelming public support to restore and increase levels of public social spending. What is lacking, are politicians that place working people and their needs above partisan politics.
The result of the next election will either be some form of centre-left coalition or another Harper minority. A centre-left outcome is what a majority of Canadians want and support. A centre-left outcome is what the left, including the Communists, the NDP and the aware left should be working for. Anything less is rank opportunism and risks a Harper comeback.
Whether one supports the Liberals, the NDP, the Bloc or the Greens, working people must take a hard look at the political rhetoric of all party leaders who claim to be for “ordinary working Canadians and their families”. We need to place a high value on our vote. No political party that claims to speak for “working families” can be allowed to take for granted labour and farm votes.
Working people are tired of standing on the sidelines while reform politicians quibble. Organized labour is needed to step up to the plate and demand a bigger say over what “the friends of labour” decide on our behalf. Organized labour is needed at the decision making table to ensure workers needs are at the top of the national political agenda of every left of centre party.

It is time to challenge and break the dominance of the corporate and military lobbies over Parliament. The biggest lobby in the country is the 17 million Canadians who work everyday for a living. It is that lobby that needs to be heard in every MP’s office, in the corridors of the Parliament Buildings, in caucuses of the opposition parties. There isn’t a brain trust in the country, however clever that knows what to do better than the working people of Canada. It is time to listen to the people and act on their needs.