ILPS Canada Statement on Freedom Convoys
The so-called Freedom Convoy occupying the city centre of Ottawa, Canada’s capital city, has drawn worldwide attention.
The protesters in Ottawa (and at border crossings) have targeted Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and are demanding an end to all pandemic restrictions including vaccine mandates for truck drivers crossing the US-Canadian border.
While there are legitimate issues involving COVID-19 mismanagement, this protest demonstrates the growing strength of right-wing forces, fanned by Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party and members of Canada’s Conservative Party, among others. The anti-people positions of certain reactionary convoy leaders and the racist, white supremacist and threatening actions, comments, flags and signs, have rightly been exposed and condemned. A progressive people’s movement would combat and exclude such dangerous elements within its ranks.
The real problem is not Trudeau, vaccines, or mask-wearing. When the horns stop blowing and these particular demonstrators return home nothing will have really changed for working people. And that includes health sector workers, care workers, warehouse employees, farm workers, teachers, and even truck drivers who face real issues of isolation, low wages, harsh working conditions, and deadly accidents!
The fundamental root of the problems is the ongoing crisis of capitalism and the imperialist system where the people, and for that matter, the planet, are abandoned in a furious chase for profits. We need freedom from this exploitative and oppressive global system, of which the Canadian capitalist class, under a liberal democratic cover, is an active participant.
Who has not been shocked by the astronomical sums that the leading capitalists have amassed, wasting it on joy rides in space, while people’s lives are shaken and the very future of the world is placed in jeopardy as climates go crazy. Who has not been shocked by the constant flip-flopping and incapacity to find lasting solutions to health and environmental crises by our so-called “leaders of the Free World”.
As anti-imperialists let’s take the genuine frustration that has built up over two pandemic years, and focus it, not on changing one or two politicians or dwelling on certain divisive issues like vaccines, into the struggle to improve the lives of working people and to uproot the imperialist system.
This requires a revolutionary approach to right the injustices and a determined fight for socialism, led by truly revolutionary parties and organizations. That will prevent the alt-right and others with simplistic, reactionary solutions to misdirect the anger and frustration that exists, especially among certain petit-bourgeois elements, into neo-fascist and even outright fascist solutions.
As we support those fighting for socialism, let’s look at a few of the priority struggles that ILPS in Canada will be taking up as we enter the next phase:
The health system was already sick before the pandemic due mainly to neo-liberal cutbacks, anti-worker policies and creeping privatization. The pandemic pushed it to breaking point, with delayed operations and treatments, along with burnout and exhaustion of medical staff, leading to thousands of nurses and other health workers quitting the public sector. Let’s support the fight for an improved and strengthened public health system that genuinely looks after the health of all working people, both patients and health providers, and puts a focus on preventative medicine. This will enable us to not only deal with COVID-19, but other pandemics to come, and assure good care for mental health and all the other ailments afflicting our populations under capitalism.
At the same time, we need to defend and improve the public education system for students, teachers and professors. Education will be key to opposing false narratives and outright lies.
Can governments afford such improvements? After telling us for decades that we don’t have enough money, we’ve seen there is plenty in the coffers of the capitalist governments, it’s just a matter of spending priorities!
Assure that the special “emergency” powers accrued to different levels of government during the pandemic are ended including ministerial orders, suspension of collective agreements, mandatory overtime, and militaristic solutions.
February 14, 2022: Canada’s Prime Minister has invoked the Emergencies Act to deal with protesters at the centre of the “Freedom convoys”. This comes after almost three weeks of apparent indifference and even support by police towards the occupiers. Invoking such powers in this context is an alarming precedent since it can be used against progressive protests in the future to limit the right of assembly and other civil liberties. We’ve already seen how governments in Canada have treated left-wing actions: military occupation and 500 arrests in Quebec during the War Measures Act of 1970, and more recently militarized police assaults with some 1100 arrested at the G20 in Toronto in 2010, over 3500 during the 2012 Quebec student strikes and nearly 1200 at Fairy Creek, B.C. just last year.
Support the frontline workers, many of them racialized people and new arrivals in Canada, with decent working conditions and salaries, paid sick leave, adequate protection at work and the chance to be unionized. This includes an end to deportations and revamping our discriminatory and regressive immigration and refugee policies. Migrants who are good enough to work are good enough to stay.
Economic support and compensation for workers impacted by pandemic closures, layoffs and vaccine mandates, including retraining and job creation for all those in the cultural, restaurant, tourism and other service industries.
Increase publicly-funded scientific research into vaccines and other medical advances, using the Cuban health system as a model. Seriously limit the control of the pharmaceutical giants over vaccines and other medicines and force them to share their discoveries – many of which were developed initially with public funding – with the rest of the world. While we understand that vaccines are not a magic bullet and must be combined with other solutions, we demand access to vaccines for all and say no to vaccine imperialism. Plus we support the sharing of scientific knowledge and discoveries freely across borders.
Take the $30 billion that is being wasted on military spending in Canada and invest it in healthcare, education, services for indigenous peoples, affordable housing and public transit. This involves getting Canada out of NATO, no new fighter jets, no troops overseas, finding diplomatic and not military solutions to Ukraine and other such conflicts and slashing the size of our military as well as police forces.
Support indigenous peoples’ rights for self-determination and justice in the face of pipelines, fracking, and other destructive practices while providing just compensation for centuries of abuse and genocide.
Support anti-imperialist struggles around the globe against right-wing and even fascistic regimes in the Philippines, where Presidential elections are taking place this May, to the U.S, Brazil, Hungary, Poland, India, Israel, Myanmar and beyond. In an imperialist global system, a victory for one is a victory for all.
Realize that this pandemic, and undoubtedly other pandemics to come, is the result of a global imperialist system centred on big farms and corporate agriculture, free trade agreements, global land grabbing, environmental devastation and deforestation. These conditions are conducive to the emergence, cross-species transfer and rapid evolution of deadly viruses.
And as the price of food skyrockets and exposes structural flaws in global food systems, we need to support the struggle for just, equitable, healthy and sustainable food systems. The people are hungry for change and we need to transform our world to one without hunger.
Over the next three months starting February 15 until May 21, 2022, the ILPS will be participating in a series of global events under the title: Three crazy months against fascism. This will be a chance to deepen our understanding of the roots of right-wing and fascist movements in Canada and beyond, and to step up our organizing, including solidifying and enlarging the ILPS.
Capitalism has no solution to the crisis, fight for socialism!
Long Live the International League of Peoples’ Struggle!
Long live international solidarity!