December 12, 2008
A Plea for Action
I write to you with great concern for the plight of the working class in Canada. I fully recognize that many Canadians are as concerned as I am and that you are concerned as well. With Mr. Ignatieff crowned as the leader of the liberal party, there will likely be a Harper/Ignattief coalition; a continuation of the coalition of the elites in Parliament. The soon to be decimated working class now has one option: the formation of an extra-parliamentary coalition of Labour, NGOs, social justice groups, students, and all citizens who are ready to act for themselves and neighbours. This coalition would conduct a national strike and organize a People’s Parliament (PP) to directly challenge the political and economic elites who have simply gone too far. A national strike is necessary because there will be so much work for the PP to do, there will be no time to continue to help capitalists accumulate more surplus value at our expense.
I know this kind of mobilization is possible because I saw the organizing effort by this very coalition in Quebec City in 2001. The question is: do Canadians have the courage that the people of Oaxaca, Mexico, and elsewhere (Bolivia, Venezuela, and Cuba), have had in countering the same forces of global capitalism that Canadians have faced and ignored?
The first order of business for the People’s Parliament will be to open political space in order to create the framework for these minimum achievements: 1) to claim the full amount of the billions of dollars stolen from the EI fund; 2) plan for at least partial employee ownership in key industries such as the auto plants, oil companies, BCE, and Vale/INCO in Sudbury, and including other industries such as, food production, and other resource extraction industries, such as forestry (the Oil Sands operations should simply be ended); 3) a massive national education program using all available people and technology to counter the false messages coming from the corporate media.
The coming firestorm will create hardship not seen in decades for the working class. Our working class history clearly demonstrates that workers can and must take action for our
own survival. For too long, we have given our consent to govern and manage the economy to those who claim to be our betters, and they have run democracy (such as it was), and the economy, the environment, and health of people into the ground. What is different from decades past is that we have a labour organization framework already in existence able to join forces with other social justice organizations and NGOs, and this organization is global in reach: as never before, the working class does not stand alone.
Does the leadership of the Canadian labour movement have the courage and passion to lead? This is not a criticism; courage will be needed and the risks great. However, there is no other real political opposition left in Canada, save the dormant passions of the labour movement.
I attended the Labour College of Canada in 2000, and have never been able to look at Canada and the world in the same old way since. Today I am a member of the Socialist Party of Canada and as such, I want to be part of change that will lead to a better and just world; a world I may never live to see, but fight on we must. Of course, it will take a massive collective effort to make change and we have to start where we are.
Why is there such silence from the labour movement at a time when the working class is under serious siege?
Paul Chislett, Windsor, On.
This letter was emailed to Canadian labour leaders Dec 12, 2008