Category Archives: Canada

Canada’s media attacks Truth and Reconciliation report

By Carl Bronski
June 21, 2015
World Socialist Web Site


In the face of the evidence collected by Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), the mainstream, corporate-controlled media has had to acknowledge that the Canadian state’s Indian Residential School program subjected generations of Indian, Inuit and Metis children to horrific, systematic abuse.

But the Commission’s finding that the residential schools were a key element in a more than century-long government Aboriginal policy that aimed at “cultural genocide”—at destroying aboriginal society and the structures that supported it so as to “divest” Canada of its “legal and financial obligations to Aboriginal people and gain control over their land and resources”—has provoked a storm of protest.

An objective examination of the historical record shows that what was perpetrated by the Canadian state against the Aboriginal peoples was genocide plain and simple, not just “cultural genocide.” Moreover, this crime was not accidental or incidental to the consolidation of the Canadian nation state and Canadian “democracy”. On the contrary it arose from the very nature of Canadian capitalism, from the clash between capitalist private property and the communal social relations of indigenous society. (See Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Report and the crimes against the native people and Canada’s aboriginal Truth and Reconciliation Report—the class issues.)

Yet even the qualified claim of “cultural genocide” that the government-appointed TRC put forth with the aim of “reconciling” the indigenous population to Canadian capitalism has produced a backlash from columnists in the country’s newspapers. Taking their cue from Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s refusal to endorse the TRC’s conclusion, right-wing and liberal commentators alike have accused the TRC of rhetorical overkill and, horror of horrors, impugning Canada’s “good name.”

Leading the charge was a particularly odious op-ed piece in the neo-conservative National Post written by Rodney E. Clifton, professor emeritus of education at the University of Manitoba and retired anthropology professor Hymie Rubenstein from the same institution. In an article headlined “Debunking the half-truths and exaggerations in the TRC Report,” the authors argue that the Indian Residential Schools program was simply aimed at teaching “mainstream norms and practices” by providing a formal education in a “complex multi-ethnic society.” What the TRC characterizes as “cultural genocide” was in fact only the standard “acculturation” process “that has occurred around the world since the origins of human beings.”

Certainly, the authors concede, there was strict discipline, but strapping and caning (and even the “vile act of child abuse”) were the “order-of-the day” in parochial schools right up to the 1960s. Indeed, write Clifton and Rubenstein, similar traumas and indignities “have been reported by the children of wealthy parents forced to attend boarding schools throughout the former British Empire.”

One needs to rub one’s eyes, not once but twice, after reading such a statement. The Canadian state’s Residential School policy forced aboriginal parents, sometimes at the point of an RCMP gun, to surrender their children. They would then be taken to church-run schools hundreds and even thousands of miles away from their homes.

There they were subjected to humiliating and de-humanizing treatment so as to eradicate the influence of native culture and inculcate obedience. Children were routinely beaten for speaking their native language and berated for being “stupid Indians.”

The system was designed by the government to be self-sustaining, i.e., to cost it no money. While they were called schools, the church-run institutions that were attended by 150,000 native children functioned far more like prisons. Much of the “school day” was given over to backbreaking chores, including working in the fields. Yet food and schoolbooks were scarce and rationed. In addition to an official regime of harsh corporal punishment, the native children were the victims of wholesale sexual abuse.

As the WSWS reported in summarizing the findings of the TRC, between “5,000 and 7,000 children died whilst in the custody of these residential schools from disease, malnutrition, fires, suicide and physical abuse. Many were buried even without a name recorded. Parents were not notified as a matter of course. …. Healthy children were consciously placed in dormitories with children suffering from tuberculosis. Sick and dying children were forced to attend class and sit up in church. Malnutrition was rampant. Testimony from school survivors recounted how hungry children would raid the slop-buckets of livestock for additional sustenance.”

Government legislation in Alberta (1928) and British Columbia (1933) authorized the forcible sterilization of residential school children. In the 1940s and 1950s aboriginal children in some residential schools were deliberately kept malnourished at the government’s order so that researchers could “scientifically” measure the impact of a starvation diet.

Clifton and Rubenstein take particular umbrage with the TRC’s statement that the aboriginal population was treated as “sub-human.” There are numerous survivor accounts and historical documents that back the TRC’s assertion. The 1876 Indian Act—the framework for ongoing aboriginal policy in Canada which legalized the First Nations as an inferior group—stated the “aborigines must be kept in a state of tutelage and treated as wards or children of the state”. Well into the 20th century, speeches from the floors of parliament and the provincial legislatures referred to natives as an “inferior race.”

The residential school system was only a part of a broad-based policy to repress and dispossess the aboriginal peoples. An overt policy of starvation was used to drive First Nations from their ancestral lands on the Prairies. Treaty rights were unilaterally abrogated by the Canadian government. “Pass Laws” were enacted that made it illegal for First Nations people to leave the reserve without the approval of the government’s Indian agent. Authorities from South Africa tasked with framing their own system of apartheid were so impressed by Canadian policy towards the aboriginal peoples that they based elements of their own racist system on it. Only in 1960 were “status Indians” granted the right to vote and other basic citizenship rights.

But for our Manitoba college professors, this particular survivor testimony from Elder Irene Favel might be more directly edifying on the question of sub-human treatment in the residential schools:

“I went to residential school in Muscowequan from 1944 to 1949, and I had a rough life. I was mistreated in every way. There was a young girl, and she was pregnant from a priest there. And what they did, she had her baby, and they took the baby, and wrapped it up in a nice pink outfit, and they took it downstairs where I was cooking dinner with the nun. And they took the baby into the furnace room, and they threw that little baby in there and burned it alive. All you could hear was this little cry, like ‘Uuh!’ and that was it. You could smell that flesh cooking.”

Other prominent columnists in Canadian newspapers have also decried, with more circumspection than the National Post, the conclusion of the TRC’s report. Jeffrey Simpson of the Globe and Mail just wishes Canadians would simply move on from a “relentless fixation on the past”. “Cultural genocide … was practiced for a long time throughout much of the world, often more violently than in Canada, to the point where the word has lost much of its meaning except as a rhetorical debating point.” Richard Gwyn of the Toronto Star wonders, “Did Canada really commit cultural genocide?” For Gwyn the history detailed by the TRC report is incongruent with Canadians’ self-image and the world’s view of Canada as a land of democracy, tolerance and fair play. After all, he opines, in comparison to Australia and the United States, in the 19th century, “our native policies were widely praised.”

But this is not all “just history.”

The legacy from the genocidal policies of the Canadian state reverberates through native communities up to the present time. Life spans for native people fall far below the national average. More than half of all native children live in poverty. HIV and AIDS rates are higher on some western reserves than in the most vulnerable of African countries. In the far north, diseases such as tuberculosis are rampant in some communities. Overcrowding in dilapidated homes is endemic. Almost half of all residences on native reserves require urgent, major repairs.

Education opportunities are deplorable—fewer than 50 percent of students on reserves graduate from high school. The federally funded schools on native reserves receive on average 30 percent less funding than other Canadian schools. Numerous native communities don’t have access to potable water, with boil water advisories in effect, on average, at over a hundred of the 631 native reserves at any given time.

Incarceration rates for aboriginals are nine times the national average. A native youth is more likely to go to prison than get a high school diploma. Although they make up just 4 percent of Canada’s population, 25 percent of those held in federal prisons are aboriginal.

Poverty conditions are not restricted to those living on reserves. Natives in urban centres, which comprise about half of the rapidly growing 1.2 million native population, have the country’s highest unemployment rates, second only to the rates for native reserves. Nationwide, about 50 percent of First Nations people and Inuit are unemployed.

Canada: Alleged ISIS supporter released on bail after lengthy, illegal detention without charge

By Roger Jordan
June 20, 2015
World Socialist Web Site


Twenty-three-year-old  was quietly released on bail late last week by a Manitoba court, after being detained since his arrest by police on June 4.

Despite holding Driver for eight days, police are yet to charge him with any crime. Police allege he supports the Islamic State (ISIS) and defended last October’s fatal attacks on Canadian Armed Forces personnel in Ottawa and Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, pointing to postings he made on a Twitter account under the alias Harun Abdurahman. However, the court has imposed a ban on reporting evidence in the case, so it is not yet known if prosecutors have any evidence linking Driver to an actual crime under Canadian law.

The length of Driver’s detention without charge has been described by legal observers as unprecedented and a clear violation of his constitutional rights. For days, the authorities offered no public justification for their detention of Driver without charge past the 48 hours currently legally permitted. Now they are attempting to do so by citing Section 810 of Canada’s Criminal Code, which provides for the imposition of a peace bond or recognizance on an individual where there exists “reasonable grounds” to believe he or she will commit an act causing injury to someone or damage to property.

Under Section 810, someone who has not been charged, let alone convicted of a crime, can be jailed for up to a year if they refuse to sign a peace bond or fail to comply with its terms after it has been signed.

Originally introduced into the Criminal Code in 1985 as a means of dealing with cases of family breakdown and abuse of children, the government is increasingly using section 810 to restrict the movements and place onerous conditions on the activities of alleged terrorist suspects against whom the state has insufficient evidence to lay criminal charges.

Evidence suggests that Canada’s national security apparatus is now routinely intimidating people with threats of criminal charges and incarceration without bail so as to get them to “voluntarily” agree to sign a peace bond.

Driver’s case, however, appears to have set a chilling new precedent in that police continued to detain him beyond the legal limit of 48 hours, because he refused to agree to the peace bond process.

The police are now asking the courts to impose a peace bond on Driver, with a hearing scheduled for July 9.

Pending that hearing, Driver has been released from bail but under harsh and illegal conditions. Among other things, Driver must wear a GPS tracker at all times, engage in “religious counselling” and forward the counsellor’s name to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), follow a 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew, give up his passport, give up any computer of any kind, submit his telephone number to the police, give police the password to access his phone, avoid social media websites, and refrain from communicating with any ISIS or Al Qaida member. This latter condition appears deliberately aimed at presenting Driver to the public as a hardened terrorist, given that not a shred of evidence has thus far been presented to suggest that he has had any contact with these or any other terrorist group.

Driver’s restrictive bail terms were sharply criticized by the Manitoba Association for Rights and Liberties (MARL), the group that first drew attention to the Driver case. “This is a person, a Canadian citizen, who has not been charged with a crime and yet he’s going to be subject to 24/7 GPS monitoring,” said MARL President Corey Shefman. He added, “He could go to jail for failing to undertake religious activity. That doesn’t sound like Canada to me. That sounds like a theocracy.”

Driver’s treatment marks a further step in the direction of police state measures. While he was behind bars, Canada’s Senate gave final approval to the Conservative government’s new Anti-Terrorism Act (Bill C-51). It vastly expands the powers of the national security apparatus, including giving the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) the power to break the law in disrupting reputed threats to Canada’s economic and national security. (See: “Canada’s police-state bill passes final parliamentary hurdle”)

The new law will also enable the authorities to obtain peace bonds much more easily. The wording in the criminal code is to be replaced, so that it reads “may” commit an offence rather than “will,” thereby significantly lowering the threshold of proof required to impose a peace bond. In addition, the maximum period of detention without charge will be extended to seven days for terrorist suspects.

As the Winnipeg Free Press wrote in an editorial criticizing the treatment of Driver, “If we’re upset with how he’s being treated now, be aware that Canada’s Anti-Terrorism Act is going to make this type of treatment easier.”

In another recent case, a Prince Edward Island student who police claim was planning to make bombs was forced to sign a 12-month peace bond which restricts his movements and requires him to report to a probation officer once a week. He has been neither charged nor convicted of any offence. A Montreal man who signed a peace bond earlier this year is currently being criminally prosecuted for breaching its terms and could face a prison term.

It is becoming increasingly clear that this little-known provision is being transformed into an instrument to be used to target anyone the government likes, even if there is no evidence of criminal activity having been committed. The catch-all definitions of terrorism and national security threats now written into law provide the basis for peace bonds to be used in the future against working-class and left-wing opponents of the government.

Unsurprisingly, there have been no statements from any of the mainstream political parties raising concerns about the Driver case. In a statement released shortly after Driver’s detention, a spokesman for Public Safety Minister Stephen Blainey merely noted that the government had to keep fighting terrorism.

With its draconian assault on basic democratic rights and legal principles, Canada’s Conservative government is pursuing the twin aims of establishing mechanisms to suppress all public opposition to its reactionary policies, as well as seeking to whip up a climate of fear and hysteria to justify its military aggression abroad.

To this latter end, government representatives portray the entire Muslim population as a menace to society. In a recent interview, Immigration Minister Chris Alexander effectively accused any Muslim woman wearing the burka or niqab of being a terrorist suspect. Commenting on the federal Conservative government’s plans to outlaw Muslim women wearing these face-covering garments from taking an oath of citizenship and the Quebec Liberal government’s bill preventing them from receiving health care and other public services, Alexander said, “We’ve done a lot in the past year to strengthen the value of Canadian citizenship. People take pride in that. They don’t want their co-citizens to be terrorists. They don’t want people to become citizens who haven’t respected the rules.”

Such fear-mongering aims to legitimize the vast authoritarian state apparatus which will be turned against the working class at the first sign of the emergence of opposition to the ruling elite.

Canada’s aboriginal Truth and Reconciliation Report—the class issues

By Carl Bronski and Keith Jones
June 14, 2015
World Socialist Web Site


The report issued last week by the government-appointed Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Indian residential schools documents a horrific crime perpetrated by the Canadian capitalist ruling elite and its state—a crime whose impacts reverberate to this day.

For well over a century, beginning in the 1870s, Indian and Inuit children were systematically stolen from their parents and communities and placed in Church-run schools, generally hundreds, even thousands, of miles from their homes. There they endured prison-type conditions; were systematically denied proper medical treatment and nourishment, punished for speaking their native languages, and subject to physical and sexual abuse.

150,000 children—as many as one in every three aboriginal children in the first half of the 20th century—were captives of the government-enforced, Church-run residential school system. An estimated 6,000 died of disease, neglect, and abuse. Many were buried in unmarked graves with their parents not even informed of their deaths.

All with the aim, as the principal father of Confederation and Canada’s Prime Minister for two decades (1867–73 and 1878–91) Sir John A. Macdonald, put it, of killing the Indian in the child.

That Macdonald played a pivotal role in the development of the residential school system is not accidental. It was an integral part of the consolidation of the Canadian nation-state, which he spearheaded, acting in close concert with a cabal of bankers, railway-promoters, and industrialists.

In the more than 300-page “Executive Summary” of its final report, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission concludes that the Indian residential school system was a “central element” in a century-long Canadian state Aboriginal policy that aimed “to eliminate Aboriginal governments; ignore Aboriginal rights; terminate the Treaties; and through a process of assimilation, cause Aboriginal peoples to cease to exist as distinct legal, social, cultural, religious and racial entities.” Terming this policy “cultural genocide” (i.e., the destruction of those structures and practices that allow the group to continue as a group), the Commission found that the Canadian government pursued it, “because it wished to divest itself of” its “legal and financial obligations to Aboriginal people and gain control over their land and resources.” (For a more exhaustive discussion of the report’s finding see: “Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Report and the crimes against the native people”)

The report makes 94 recommendations. Many of these are for increased state expenditure on health-care, education, housing, and child welfare, so as to help lift Canada’s aboriginal people out of the Third World-type conditions that prevail on most native reserves and, increasingly, in the urban ghettos many now call home. A host of other recommendations revolve around commemorating the victims of the residential school system and making Canadians aware of this historic injustice. The Commissioners also reiterated longstanding demands of Canada’s aboriginal elite for increased legal-constitutional recognition of, and powers for, native self-governments, and for the speedy and equitable resolution of land claims.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) report has undoubtedly shocked and disturbed working people. Not only has this monstrous crime been ignored and covered up, meaning that prior to last week most Canadians knew little if anything about the residential school system. The report flies in the face of the official Canadian nationalist narrative which portrays Canada as a “kinder, gentler,” and “more-caring” society—one fundamentally different from the rapacious dollar-republic to the south. This narrative, to be sure, has been increasingly exposed as a sham, as Canada’s ruling elite rallies behind one US-led war after another and guts public and social services. But it is sustained by powerful social interests and appetites.

The Harper government’s assault on native people

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservative government are clearly intent on burying the TRC report and its finding that Canada committed “cultural genocide.” On the pretext that his government awaits publication later this fall of the remaining six volumes of the commission’s report, Harper has baldly refused to respond to the “Executive Summary” or its recommendations.

Harper could not entirely turn his back on the TRC last week. After all, his government had formed it, as part of a 2007 settlement of a class-action suit brought by residential-school survivors against Ottawa and its Church partners. But the prime minister sat stonily silent through the official proceedings marking the termination of the TRC’s work and when questioned about the report in parliament had the gall to say that Canada has one of the world’s best records on the treatment of indigenous peoples. Harper, whose general demeanor suggests nothing so much as a calculating, vindictive accountant, further claimed that his government has spent “vast amounts of money” on improving the lives of Canada’s native population.

In fact the Conservatives government has systematically attacked Canada’s aboriginal people as part of its offensive against the working class as whole. This offensive has included massive social spending cuts, an increase in the retirement age, further cuts to jobless benefits, the effective outlawing of strikes in the federally-administered industries, and a dramatic expansion of the powers of the national-security apparatus.

Harper has cut billions from programs that benefit native people, beginning with his government’s repudiation of the commitments made by the previous Liberal government under the 2005 “Kelowna Accord.” Central to the Conservative government’s agenda has been the push to develop new mineral deposits in the Canadian North and pipeline-projects that will transport Alberta tar-sands oil to U.S. and Asian markets over the strenuous objections of indigenous groups. Under legislation passed in 2012, the Conservatives made changes to the Indian Act and Navigable Waters Act that open the way for the de facto privatization of native lands and significantly reduce environmental protection.

The world capitalist crisis and opposition from native communities have impeded the government’s plans. But in a spate of policy papers, think-tank reports and academic studies, the Conservatives and their big business and neo-conservative supporters have explained that their goal is to integrate the native Indian reserves much more fully into contemporary Canadian capitalism, including throwing them open to private land ownership, so as to more profitably exploit their natural resources and pools of cheap-labour.

If Harper and his government are publicly dismissive and privately disdainful of the TRC report, it is because they view it as cutting across this predatory agenda.

The opposition parties and the TRC

The opposition parties, joined by a significant section of the capitalist press have taken a different tack.

The NDP and the Liberals were quick to endorse the report and its recommendations. Liberal leader Justin Trudeau went so far as to pledge that a Liberal government would enact all 94.

There is a huge dollop of cynicism and hypocrisy in this.

When last in power federally, the Liberals implemented the greatest social spending cuts in Canadian history and all but completely ignored the 440 recommendations outlined in the 1996 final report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal People. That commission had been set up to contain mounting native discontent as exemplified by the 1991 Oka crisis, which had ended with the Canadian army suppressing a Mohawk occupation of ancestral lands that were being transformed into a private golf course.

While the NDP has never held office in Ottawa, its provincial governments, including the current Manitoba NDP government, have presided over appalling conditions for native people, on- and off-reserve.

Moreover, both parties are committed to balanced budgets and maintaining the reactionary fiscal framework, established by decades of federal Liberal and Conservatives governments, under which corporate taxes and income and capital gains taxes for the rich and super-rich have been reduced to record lows. Should they come to power, the Liberals’ and NDP’s claims of support for the TRC’s call for a major boost in social spending to alleviate the social misery of Canada’s native people will prove to have been a cruel hoax.

In the wake of the TRC report and the litany of horrors it has documented, the mainstream press has published statements abhorring the treatment of native children in the residential schools. However, the editorials and commentary have pointedly skirted the central issue of funding a massive expansion of public and social services for the Aboriginal population, preferring to concentrate on the need for public apologies from various political and church entities and reconciliation.

This is not to suggest there are no differences within Canada’s ruling elite. In his push for resource development and neo-liberal “reform” of the reserve system, Harper has repeatedly clashed with those hitherto recognized by Ottawa as Canada’s native leadership, such as the Assembly of First Nations. By contrast, those ready to commend the TRC report, including the NDP and Liberal politicians, generally favour the continuation of policies first elaborated in the 1970s and 1980s to give Canadian capitalism’s continuing oppression of the native people an ostensibly more humane face, through the promotion of native “self-government” and land-claim negotiations.

This section of the elite notes Harper has manifestly failed to realize his pipeline-building plans. Furthermore, like Harper, they are acutely aware of mounting discontent among native people. (Reports made available by leaks and access-to-information requests, reveal that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and other state agencies have repeatedly warned of the threat of widespread native social unrest.)

Those sections of Canada’s elite who are embracing the TRC report hope to use it to carry out something of a course correction. They favour relying more on the aboriginal elite nurtured over the past four decades and propose to do so by more systematically incorporating them into government and into resource development. The three TRC Commissioners—Manitoba Justice Murray Sinclair, journalist and broadcast executive Marie Wilson, and lawyer and former Conservative MP Chief Wilton Littlechild—are themselves representatives of this aboriginal elite and their report is imbued with the perspective of “reconciling” the native population with Canadian capitalism.

Justice McLachlin and Canada’s “most glaring blemish”

In this regard, it is highly significant that just five days before the public release of the TRC report, the head of Canada’s Supreme Court, Justice Beverely McLachlin, delivered a major address in which she affirmed that Canada’s treatment of the native people had been tantamount to “cultural genocide”—in effect endorsing the TRC’s central conclusion in advance.

A Supreme Court Justice since 1989, McLachlin has been involved in a series of Supreme Court decisions that delimit “native land rights” and “self-government.” These decisions are aimed at giving legal imprimatur to the dispossession of the native peoples and are serving to fashion a modern-day system of native self-government that is fully-incorporated into the Canadian capitalist state and, as such, an instrument for the further dissolution of traditional communal land and its transformation into capitalist private property.

In her May 28 speech McLachlin termed the treatment of the First Nations “the most glaring blemish” on Canada’s historic record as a “peaceful multi-cultural country”—a statement that typifies the attitude of the ostensibly progressive section of Canada’s elite to the TRC and the continuing plight of the native people.

In reality, the dispossession of the indigenous population was not a blemish, nor a birth pang. It was integral to the rise of Canadian capitalism and the consolidation of the Canadian nation-state. Moreover, it lays bare the violent and oppressive character of the Canadian state, as the instrument of organized violence for upholding capitalist exploitation, to this day. Canadian capitalism’s rise involved the destruction of aboriginal society—a genocide—because the communal relations on which aboriginal society was based were incompatible with the imposition of capitalist private property.

The last four decades of land rights struggles, based on the acceptance of capitalism and the promotion of native nationalism with a view to negotiating a new “relationship” with the Canadian state, have led native people into a political and social dead end. Self-government and land-claim settlements have nurtured a small elite that manages the reserves for six-figure salaries and is immersed in business deals, from construction and transport to casinos and cigarette smuggling, while hundreds, and in some cases thousands, of their fellow band members live in abject poverty.

Ending the historic oppression of the native people, like securing the social and democratic rights of all working people, will only be possible though the independent political mobilization of the working class to reorganize society from top to bottom along socialist lines.

The authors also recommend:

Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Report and the crimes against the native people

[6 June 2015]

Canada: Alleged ISIS supporter detained without charge for over a week

By Roger Jordan and Felix Gauthier
June 13, 2015
World Socialist Web Site


Aaron Driver, a 24-year-old Winnipeg resident, has been held in police custody since June 4 without charge. He was arrested by Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officers, who also searched his home, on allegations that he is an Islamic State (ISIS) supporter.

Authorities have not charged Driver with any crime. Under Canadian law, a terrorism suspect can be detained for a maximum of 48 hours without charge. This is to be extended to seven days under the recently adopted anti-democratic Bill C-51, but its provisions have yet to come into force.

“It should shock every Canadian citizen that this is possible or” that it “is being done,” Corey Shefman, head of the Manitoba Association of Rights and Liberties, told CBC. He continued, “I cannot comment on what he might or might not do, or what he has or hasn’t done. But I do know he hasn’t been charged with a crime and yet he finds himself behind bars without his freedom and no reason he has officially been presented with.”

Driver is said to have posted messages on Twitter defending ISIS and promoting extremist and reactionary views. In one post, he allegedly accused the Jews of plotting a war against Islam, and in another he defended ISIS’s use of terrorist methods.

However, authorities have presented no evidence, let alone charged Driver, with having or having had ties to a terrorist group. The only item the media report police having found during a raid of his Winnipeg home was an “Arabic for Dummies” book. They also seized his computer.

Reports indicate that Driver was an isolated individual who was trying to complete his high school diploma by attending adult education classes. He converted to Islam some time during the past two years, but according to teachers interviewed by the CBC, did not try to convert others. He allegedly used the alias Harun Abdurahman on Twitter to post pro-ISIS material.

No legal justification has thus far been given for Driver’s continued detention without charge.

Jeff Gindin, a defence lawyer with over 40 years of experience, drew attention to the unprecedented character of the Driver case. “So far there’s no real law that I’m aware of that when you think someone might commit an offence that you would then have the right to arrest them prior to that,” he told CBC.

Police plan to apply for a peace bond (or restriction order) at Driver’s next court hearing, scheduled for June 24. By then, he will have been held for almost three weeks without charge.

Peace bonds enable a judge to impose conditions on an individual whom the authorities suspect will commit a terrorist offence, but it is not necessary for the individual in question to have been charged, let alone convicted, of any crime.

Harper_HitlerThe detention of Driver without charge and in apparent violation of Canadian law is merely the latest indication of the Canadian elite’s turn towards openly authoritarian forms of rule. Earlier this week, the Senate, Canada’s upper house of parliament, gave its approval to the draconian Bill C-51. It grants the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) the power to “disrupt” the activities of groups and individuals deemed to threaten national security, establishes an all-embracing speech-crime offence of “promoting” terrorism, virtually abolishes privacy rights, and provides for the confiscation or deletion of “terrorist propaganda.”

The fact that the ruling elite plans to use such measures against working class and left-wing opposition is confirmed by the vague definitions of potential threats in the legislation, which allow the security services to target any group deemed to be a threat to the economic or national security of Canada, and its diplomatic interests or constitutional order.

Bill C-51 will also make it easier for police to obtain peace bonds from a judge. Authorities will only be required to prove that an individual “may” facilitate a terrorist attack. This is a significant reduction of the evidentiary standard, meaning that the use of peace bonds will become much more routine.

Even without these powers, police forces across Canada have dramatically stepped up the use of peace bonds against alleged terrorist suspects in recent months.

A 20-year-old Stratford, Prince Edward Island resident signed a one-year peace bond on May 22 after the RCMP alleged that he possessed 50-60 castor beans, with which it is possible to produce the ricin toxin.

Amir Raisolsadat, a chemistry student at the University of Prince Edward Island, had been arrested in March after the RCMP told a judge it feared “on reasonable grounds” that he would commit a terrorist act. As his lawyer Brandon Forbes pointed out, Raisolsadat essentially faced the choice to “take on the combined efforts of the state in a prolonged hearing at great expense” or sign a peace bond.

Associates of Raisolsadat, including neighbours and professors, described him as a good student who likes chemistry. Raisolsadat himself denies intending harm to anyone.

In addition to restricting his movements to the island, the peace bond requires Raisolsadat to report to a probation officer and the police once a week. The peace bond also forbids him from owning castor beans, ricin, or any weapons, ammunition or explosives.

Before allegedly finding the castor beans in an iPhone case at his home in April last year, the RCMP claim to have uncovered instructions to make calcium phosphide and a diagram of a rocket with a section labelled “warhead” in Raisolsadat’s garbage. The RCMP also allegedly seized castor bean plants, computer equipment, and journals with drawings of bombs, explosions and chemical formulae.

While the RCMP won’t release further details, on the grounds of an ongoing criminal investigation, none of the published allegations indicate that Raisolsadat was a threat to anyone at the time of his arrest. According to Forbes, the rocket depicted in the diagram is “a foot-high piece of cardboard with glue and balsa wood. It’s meant to put a little GI Joe up in the air and it parachutes down” and can be bought in a toyshop. The RCMP claim Raisolsadat bought it with a fake name, whereas Forbes indicates it was bought by somebody else.

Raisolsadat wasn’t charged with any crime, nor have any of the allegations used to compel him to sign the peace bond been proven in court. However, if he violates the conditions he agreed to, he could face criminal charges leading to up to three years of probation and a two-year prison sentence. A Montreal man who recently signed a peace bond currently faces just such charges.

A series of terrorism suspects have been targeted by the RCMP through novel legal concepts, such as preventive arrest and peace bonds. Since the Ottawa shooting last October, the use of such techniques has increased markedly. Meanwhile, the Harper government has stepped up its campaign to portray Canada as a country under siege from terrorists, so as to both justify the adoption of Bill C-51 and Canada’s expanded role in the US-led war in the Middle East.

Ten young people accused of being on their way to join Jihadist groups abroad were arrested in May. In April, the 18-year-olds El Mahdi Jamali and Sabrine Djermane pled not guilty to charges related to terrorism. Two men from Montreal were arrested in March and April and compelled to sign peace bonds.

While the current targets of the state’s expanding authoritarian powers are reputed supporters of Islamic extremism, no one should be in any doubt as to the ultimate purpose of these measures. As the Canadian ruling elite intensifies its policies of aggressive militarism abroad and attacks on social and democratic rights at home, it is preparing for mass repression of a wave of working class opposition.

The authors also recommend:

Canada’s police-state bill passes final parliamentary hurdle
[10 June 2015]

Canada expelling tens of thousands of migrant workers

By Dylan Lubao
June 12, 2015
World Socialist Web Site


Stephen-HarperLast month, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper shed crocodile tears over the country’s use of low-wage temporary foreign workers, when he shared a podium with Benigno Aquino III, the visiting Philippine president.

“This country is not going to have a policy,” Harper began, “where we will have a permanent underclass of… people who are so-called temporary, but here forever, with no rights of citizenship and no rights of mobility.”

Hidden behind Harper’s words were the reactionary implications of the “reforms” his Conservative government made to the Temporary Foreign Workers Program (TFWP), the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP), and the Live-In Caregiver Program (LCP) in 2011. These programs are used by corporations, small businesses, and the affluent to import poverty-wage labourers on temporary work visas for menial, often degrading, jobs.

Workers registered in these programs are among the most vulnerable and victimized in the country. Each of these three programs legally binds its workers to one employer for the duration of their work-term, meaning the workers’ residency in Canada is entirely dependent on their pleasing their employer. Fearing termination and deportation, temporary workers routinely do not report contract violations and outright abuse, including sexual and physical harassment.

April 1 marked the deadline for an estimated 70,000 temporary foreign workers (TFWs) to obtain permanent-residency or a temporary-waiver. Otherwise, according to the “four in four out” policy changes implemented by the Conservatives in 2011, they must “voluntarily” exit the country or be declared an illegal alien and subject to deportation.

Under this new rule, devised by Defence Minster Jason Kenney (when he held the Employment portfolio) and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander, incoming workers to the TFWP and SAWP became restricted to four-year work terms, after which they would be ineligible to reapply to the program again for another four years. The Conservative government, as part of its reactionary “putting Canadians first” agenda, is expected to further reduce the time a “temporary worker” can stay in Canada to two years.

The LCP allows workers to apply for permanent residency after completing a two-year work term. Although the LCP remains officially unaffected by the “four in four out” rule, the Conservatives have set an annual cap of 5,500 on the number of caregivers awarded permanent residency—well below the estimated 8,000 who enter the program each year. Those who fail to obtain permanent residency are to be deported after their work visas expire.

To reward the TFWs for their backbreaking toil, which has kept many businesses afloat with cheap labour and allowed the rich to neglect their children and infirm dependents, Alexander and the current Employment Minister Pierre Poilievre have callously vowed to hunt down any workers who do not leave the country immediately.

“Let there be no mistake,” the Conservative MPs said in a statement. “We will not tolerate people going ‘underground.’ Flouting our immigration laws is not an option, and we will deal with offenders swiftly.”

Thus, Harper’s comment that TFWs would not be “here forever” contains a grain of truth, however perverse. Rather than stringing migrant workers along for years without any guarantee of permanent residency and citizenship, the “four in four out” rule cements their status as completely disposable labour to which employers and the government have no obligation outside the most meagre of wages. It aligns the TFWP and its sister programs ever closer to the notorious kafala cheap-labour regimes that predominate in the despotic monarchies of the Middle East.

The “four in four out” rule and the April 1 deadline are merely the latest in a series of virulent attacks on migrant workers. Since the eruption of the 2008 global economic crisis every section of the political establishment, including the trade unions, has joined in denouncing the TFWs, whom they scapegoat for unemployment and depressed wages.

Last year, the Conservatives decreed that by July 2015, no more than 20 percent of a company’s workforce could consist of TFWs, with that number dropping to 10 percent by 2016. A ban on hiring low-skilled TFWs in regions with unemployment rates of 6 percent or higher was also put in place. In addition, registration and processing fees for employers utilizing the TFWP have been sharply increased.

In 2013, the Conservatives instituted a virtual witch hunt of TFWs by granting government inspectors unprecedented powers to conduct warrantless searches of workplaces that employ migrant labour. As well, Kenney severely curtailed a longstanding practice of allowing TFWs to sponsor their children and elderly parents for permanent residency, by making adult children ineligible and dramatically lengthening waiting times and hiking the relevant fees. Kenney has regularly smeared elderly dependents, in particular, as burdens on the country’s health and welfare systems who “abuse” Canada’s “generosity”.

A host of big-business representatives from the restaurant, agriculture, hospitality, and other industries have predictably protested these changes, bemoaning the fact that they will restrict their access to a poorly-paid migrant labour pool.

In response to this backlash, Kenney granted a temporary stay this past February on deportations for hundreds of TFWs in Alberta, the province that employs, per capita, by far the highest number of migrant labourers. He also hinted that other provinces could soon receive similar exemptions.

The Conservative attacks on TFWs, and their subsequent concessions to big-business, make abundantly clear that the TFWP and its sister programs exist only to provide businesses and wealthy families with a source of ultra-cheap labour, in the process helping to drive down the wages of the Canadian working class.

If the Conservatives have been able to ludicrously posture as defenders of both TFWs and Canadian workers, it is only because the Liberals, the New Democratic Party (NDP), and the trade unions have whipped up a toxic climate of chauvinism and xenophobia, under the reactionary pretext of defending “Canadian jobs” and through the exposure of some of the most egregious abuses of the TWFP, whose ostensible purpose is to help employers fill temporary labor-shortages.

It was a Liberal government led by Jean Chrétien that in 2002 chose to expand the TFWP (which had been hitherto limited to high-skilled trade and professional jobs) to include a stream for low-skilled workers, rather than increase immigration. Subsequently, the Harper government rapidly enlarged this stream to the point that last year there were 340,000 TFWs. The number of workers entering the country on a temporary basis now far exceeds those entering with permanent resident visas.

The NDP has been among the most duplicitous in its treatment of the issue. Parroting the official Conservative line, federal NDP leader Thomas Mulcair recently announced that upon forming government, his party would clamp down on the hiring of TFWS in the name of fighting for Canadian jobs.

As for the trade unions, their patently nationalistic political outlook has easily transitioned into a right-wing and chauvinistic campaign to keep “Canadian jobs for Canadians”. In 2013, Ken Georgetti, the then president of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), blamed TFWs for stealing jobs from Canadian workers. To justify his claims, he pointed to a hack piece of analysis that roughly equated the net number of new jobs created to the number of new TFWs.

In reality, the trade unions have for decades constituted the primary obstacle to fighting mass layoffs and declining wages. In collusion with big business, they have imposed wage and job cuts to ensure corporate “competitiveness,” i.e. profitability, and when working-class resistance has erupted they have isolated and suppressed it. In collusion with their Liberal and NDP partners, the unions keep the working class subordinated to the parties of big-business and lashed to the capitalist system.

The right to live and work where one wishes is a fundamental social right for which the working class must fight and do so in opposition to the trade unions and the NDP who promote nationalism and pit Canadian workers against their class brothers and sisters from across the globe.

To realize this goal, and to create a world in which workers are not forced to leave their families behind to earn a pittance, requires breaking with these bourgeois organizations, and forming an independent political party of the working class to fight for socialism.

Canada’s police-state bill passes final parliamentary hurdle

By Roger Jordan and Keith Jones
June 10, 2015
World Socialist Web Site


Harper_HitlerWith yesterday’s ratification of Bill C-51 by the Senate, the Conservative government’s police-state legislation requires only royal assent in the form of the Governor-General’s signature to become law.

Framed by Stephen Harper and his Conservative government as an anti-terrorist measure, Bill C-51 dramatically expands the powers of the national security apparatus to spy on and suppress opposition to the ruling elite’s agenda of austerity and imperialist aggression.

Bill C-51 will empower Canada’s Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS) to break the law and violate the Canadian constitution’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms in “disrupting” what it deems to be threats to Canada’s economic and national security, territorial integrity or constitutional order.

Under this “disruption power,” CSIS could break into properties, seize documents and other materials, tamper with bank accounts, press employers to fire “national security” suspects, forcibly detain them, or subject them to psychological torture. The only “dirty tricks” CSIS is expressly banned from mounting are those that would cause someone bodily harm, kill them, or impugn their “sexual integrity.”

In response to a public outcry, the government passed a minor amendment to this part of the law during parliamentary hearings, stipulating that all protests, not just “lawful” protests, would be exempt from CSIS disruption. This is no more than a fig leaf. CSIS can and will justify its use of “dirty tricks” against strikes in defiance of anti-worker laws and other mass social protests by claiming they are threatening economic or national security. Already, CSIS and the RCMP carry out blanket surveillance of protest movements on the grounds that some of their participants might engage in vandalism or otherwise break the law.

The requirement that CSIS obtain the permission of a judge, in a secret court hearing, before breaking the law represents no significant impediment to its targeting government opponents en masse. Those targeted will have no knowledge of the proceedings, let alone the opportunity to challenge CSIS’s designation of them as threats to Canada’s security. Moreover, the proceedings will remain secret, giving rise to a secret jurisprudence, where the security agencies working in concert with a handful of carefully vetted judges will decide which groups and individuals Canada’s premier spy agency can use criminal means to “disrupt.”

Bill C-51 also guts Canadians’ privacy rights. It eliminates virtually any restrictions on the sharing of information between government agencies and departments in “national security” investigations.

The legislation also creates a “speech crime” of promoting terrorism “in general,” not tied to the incitement of any specific terrorist act. Persons will be liable to a five-year prison term for anything they say or write, in public or private, that the state deems promotes terrorism. Combined with new powers permitting the courts to remove websites and ban other publications judged to contain terrorist “propaganda,” this will be used to target critics of government policy, such as Canada’s staunch support for Israel.

Under Bill C-51, the state is arrogating new powers to restrict the movements and activities of alleged terrorist suspects—persons who have not been charged, let alone convicted of any crime.

It is also significantly expanding its powers of preventive detention. Instead of the upper limit of 72 hours, police will now be able detain terrorism suspects for seven days and on a lower evidentiary basis.

In keeping with the bill’s antidemocratic character, the Conservative government steamrolled it through parliament. Debate was kept to a minimum at all stages, with many prominent critics of the bill denied the right to appear before the House of Commons committee tasked with studying it. Even the Conservative government-appointed Privacy Commissioner was excluded.

At the same time, the government stepped up its campaign of lies and disinformation, portraying Canada as under terrorist siege. Harper seized on the twin attacks by disoriented individuals last October to portray Canada as a country under threat from Islamic extremists so as to justify both the strengthening of the national security apparatus and the expansion of Canada’s role in the new US-led war in the Middle East. It was thus no coincidence that as Bill C-51 was being rushed through the House of Commons, the government pushed through a parliamentary motion extending the Canadian military intervention till April 2016 and expanded it to include Syria.

If the Conservatives have proceeded so ruthlessly, it is because the assault on democratic rights has the support of ruling circles around the globe and domestically.

In recent months, Britain and France have passed or announced new legislation that in the name of combating terrorism and extremism gives vast new powers to their national security apparatuses. US President Barack Obama, who presides over far and away the world’s largest spy network and who has baldly asserted the right to order the summary execution of US citizens considered terrorists, explicitly called for Washington’s allies to strengthen their coercive powers at an “anti-terrorism” conference in February.

This is only the latest stage in a systematic drive, initiated over a decade ago under George W. Bush, to gut basic democratic rights and erect the scaffolding of a police state under conditions of deepening social inequality and growing popular alienation in every major capitalist country.

Canada’s ruling elite is also fully on board with the project of expanding the already existing authoritarian state structures. The opposition Liberals joined with the government in voting Bill C-51 into law. While they claimed to oppose certain aspects of the bill, Justin Trudeau and his Liberals said its passage was necessary to protect Canadians from terrorism.

The Globe and Mail, Canada’s “newspaper of record,” emerged as a prominent opponent of the bill. But its criticisms said nothing about the comprehensive spying network already in place in Canada, nor the fact that the Globe has stood firmly behind Harper over the past nine years, including backing his antidemocratic constitutional coup in 2008 and his campaign for a parliamentary majority in 2011. The Harper government has used this majority not only to attack democratic rights and expand Canada’s participation in imperialist wars, but also to effectively outlaw strikes in the federal-regulated sector, slash unemployment insurance, raise the retirement age, and cut tens of billions in social spending.

The Globe was subsequently joined in its opposition to Bill C-51 by four former Prime Ministers and various retried Supreme Court Justices and Solicitors-General. This opposition, as exemplified by the focus on the Conservatives’ refusal to provide for greater “oversight” of the national-security apparatus—was motivated by the fear that under conditions of mounting class tensions and social anger, such an outright break with traditional bourgeois-democratic norms would discredit parliament and the other key institutions of bourgeois rule.

The official opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) delayed taking a clear stance on Bill C-51 for almost a month. When it became clear that a section of the ruling elite felt that Harper was going too far, the NDP belatedly declared that it would oppose the bill in parliament. However, its opposition was purely on tactical grounds, as shown by the fact that it focused the majority of its attacks on the lack of “oversight,” whether by a vetted parliamentary committee or some third-party body of trusted ruling-class representatives, like the existing Security and Intelligence Review Committee.

The NDP proposed a series of amendments to the bill in parliament. But it made no appeal to the growing popular opposition, which has found limited expression in a series of demonstrations nationwide. Nor did the NDP use the debate over Bill C-51 to draw attention to the systematic spying on Canadians’ electronic communications being carried out by the Communications Security Establishment (CSE).

With public hostility to the Harper government’s sweeping attack on democratic rights mounting and the Liberals increasingly under fire for their support for Bill C-51, the NDP has cynically shifted its position in the expectation it will bring electoral dividends. Initially, NDP leader Thomas Mulcair said an NDP government would not repeal Bill C-51, only amend it. But last month he changed his tune and vowed the NDP would scrap Bill C-51.

Such rhetoric is being employed even as the NDP persists in making overtures to the Liberals to form a coalition government after October’s federal election. Not only did the Liberals vote for Bill C-51, they implemented Canada’s first post-9/11 anti-terrorist legislation and subsequently authorized the CSE to collect and sift through the metadata of Canadians’ electronic communications.

The lesson to be drawn from the passage of Bill C-51 is that the defence of basic democratic rights falls to the working class. It is the only social force which has no interest in the maintenance of the vast national security apparatus built up to spy on the entire population, or the use of authoritarian state powers to suppress opposition to militarism and war. Only through the emergence of a mass working-class political party committed to a socialist and internationalist program can the unending destruction of social and democratic rights by the ruling elite be halted.


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Canada: Why is the Globe and Mail denouncing Harper’s latest “anti-terrorism” bill?
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Canada’s Harper Government Provides Military Training to Neo-Nazi Ukraine National Guard

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky
June 9, 2015
Global Research, June 8, 2015


poroshenko-harperThe Canadian media has highlighted Prime Minister Harper’s one on one meeting with Ukraine’s president Poroshenko in Kiev (June 5, 2015). The official story which has been fed to Canadians is that Ottawa is providing “non-lethal aid” as well support to the country’s civilian police force:

 “We supply a range of non-lethal military equipment,” Harper said…  While disappointed about this, Poroshenko praised Canada for supporting Ukraine since “the first hours” of his presidency and said the military aid it had provided to his country, such as medical kits and mobile hospitals, “addressed an acute problem. (National Post, June 6, 2015, emphasis added)

Harper also announced that Canada would be sending 10 police officers to Ukraine to help reform the country’s security sector in a partnership with the United States.

Harper announced the $5 million project during a visit in which he watched training exercises by police cadets. …  (CP News 24, June 6, 2015, emphasis added)

This story contradicts earlier reports and government statements.

The gist of Harper’s flash visit to Kiev prior to the G7 Summit was to reaffirm Canada’s  commitment to the dispatch of “military instructors” in support of Ukraine’s National Guard, which is controlled by the two Neo-Nazi parties, Svoboda and Right Sector.

In April, Washington confirmed that it would send in a US contingent of instructors “of  290 specialists which will be working with the National Guard. Britain has dispatched 75 military personnel responsible for training “in command procedures and tactical intelligence”. (Los Angeles Times, April 20, 2015).

Ironically, the Harper government quite candidly acknowledged that there were Neo-Nazi elements within the National Guard, and that provisions were being envisaged to prevent Canadian military instructors from training Neo-Nazis:

The Canadian government is confident that troops from Petawawa won’t end up instructing Neo Nazis and far right extremists when they begin their training mission in Ukraine this summer, but a former diplomat is warning it will be difficult to weed out such extremists as their militia units are now being integrated into Ukraine’s regular forces.

Some members of Ukraine’s most effective fighting units [Azov batallion] have openly acknowledged they are Nazi sympathizers or have expressed anti-Semitic or extreme right wing views. (Ottawa Citizen, April 18, 2015, emphasis added)

The solution proposed by Canada’s Defence Minister Kenney is contradictory to say the least: Ottawa will support the National Guard as a means to avoiding the training of Neo-Nazis. Canada’s military instructors will be dispatched and allocated to the National Guard:

“We’re not going to be in the business of training ad hoc militias… We will only be training units of the Ukrainian National Guard and army recognized by the government of Ukraine.” (Ibid, emphasis added)

What is Ukraine’s National Guard

The National Guard which is now supported by Canada has been responsible for countless atrocities in the Donbass region.

The wear Nazi insignia on their uniforms.

Below is the Nazi emblem of the National Guard  [Національна гвардія України] which is defined as Reserves of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. They operate under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

The National Guard is part of the so-called “Internal Troops of Ukraine.” The emblem is a stylized swastika (see below).



The main battalion of the National Guard under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Internal Affairs involved in the Donbass region is The Azov Battalion (Батальйон Азов).

This battalion is supported by the Western military alliance including Canada.

The Azov Battalion -which displays the Nazi SS emblem– (below left) is described by the Kiev regime as “a volunteer battalion of territorial defense”.

It’s a National Guard battalion under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.  Officially based in Berdyank on the Sea of Azov, it was formed by the regime to fight the opposition insurgency in Eastern and Southern Ukraine. It is supported by the US and NATO.

These militia bearing the Nazi SS emblem supported by the US and Canada are casually referred to as “Freedom fighters”.

Scroll down for Selected Images of the Azov Battalion “Freedom Fighters”

Imagine what would happen if  Canada’s RCMP or the US National Guard were to display swastika-like symbols.

Media Disinformation

Unknown to both Americans and Canadians, the West is channeling financial support, weapons and training to a Neo-Nazi entity. Both Washington and Ottawa have sent in military instructors.

Nobody knows about it because the use of the words “Neo-Nazi” and “Fascist” in relation to Ukraine is a taboo. The have been excluded from the lexicon of investigative reporting. In media reports they have been replaced by “Ultra-conservative”, “Extreme Right” and “Nationalist”.

Ukraine’s National Guard –which is supported by Canada– glorifies Adolph Hitler  and Stepan Bandera, Ukraine’s World War II Nazi leader and collaborator of the Third Reich.

People holding UPA (horizontal red and black) and Svoboda (3 yellow fingers on blue) flags march through Kyiv to the honor of the Nazi ally, Bandera.


It is worth noting that Ukrainian Jews were the target of the Third Reich’s Einsatzgruppen (Task Groups or Deployment Groups) which were supported by Ukrainian Nazi collaborators led by Stepan Bandera . These “task forces” were paramilitary death squads deployed in occupied territories.

Talking about Neo-Nazis in Ukraine, who are part of the coalition government, is a taboo. It is not newsworthy. Yet, the Neo-Nazis play a central role in the country’s security apparatus.

Surely Canadians should be made aware of the fact that their government is sending military instructors to train Neo-Nazi recruits.

In contrast to the scanty news which is fed to Canadians, the Ukrainian media’s coverage of Harper’s visit to Kiev has nonetheless acknowledged Canada’s support for the country’s National Guard:

Canada will allocate $5 million to train new police officers and military instructors for the National Guard of Ukraine, Prime Minister of Ukraine Arseniy Yatseniuk said.

Besides, Canadian military instructors will arrive to Ukraine to train the National Guard, the premier said. (Interfax-Ukraine, June 6, 2015)

Canadian prime minister backs right-wing regime in Ukraine

By Roger Jordan
June 8, 2015
World Socialist Web Site


Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper visited the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, Saturday to reaffirm Ottawa’s support for Ukraine’s ultra-nationalist, pro-western regime and the US-led drive against Russia.

From Kiev, Harper flew to Germany for the G-7 summit, at which he promised to advocate for the Ukrainian regime—i.e. to join Washington in pressing for no let-up in the economic sanctions, aggressive NATO military deployments, and war threats against Russia.

At a joint press conference with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Harper declared: “While Ukraine may not have a seat at the (G-7) table, I can assure you, Mr. President, the situation will be very high on Canada’s agenda.”

Earlier in a written statement, Harper again sought to paint Russia as the “aggressor.” Amid renewed fighting in east Ukraine, where much of the population has rebelled against Kiev with Russia’s support, Harper declared: “Canada strongly condemns Russia’s aggressive actions in Eastern Ukraine and its illegal annexation of Crimea, and will continue to stand with the people of Ukraine in the face of the ongoing violation of the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

This turns reality on its head. It is the western powers, led by the US and Germany, that have been pushing to detach Ukraine from Russia’s sphere of influence and transform it into a source of cheap labour and natural resources for western imperialism and a staging area for provocations against Russia. In response to the Russian ruling elite’s predictable attempts to counter this existential threat, it is the western powers that have deployed troops on Russia’s borders and battleships in the Black Sea, violating NATO’s earlier pledge that it would not permanently station forces in Eastern Europe.

Canada has long been playing a critical role in the drive to harness Ukraine to the West and to strategically isolate Russia and topple Putin—a campaign that threatens to provoke all-out war between nuclear-armed states.

Harper’s visit to Kiev was the third he has made since the US-orchestrated, fascist-led coup of February 2014 that overthrew Ukraine’s elected president, Victor Yanukovych.

Canada has joined in the NATO deployments on Russia’s borders, sending troops and war planes to the Baltic states and Eastern Europe and warships to the Black Sea. In August, 200 Canadian Armed Forces personnel will deploy to the western Ukraine to provide training, alongside US and British forces, to Ukrainian army and National Guard units.

Canada has repeatedly seconded US calls for their European allies to take a more belligerent stance against Russia. At last November’s G-20 meeting, Harper provocatively snubbed Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, telling him “to get out of Ukraine” to accolades from Canadian media.

In Kiev this Saturday, Harper announced plans to provide funding and equipment for a new civil police force. Ottawa will also send a contingent of police officers to Ukraine to train the force and to advise what the media called “other security institutions.” This likely refers to the Kiev regime’s National Guard, which comprises many fighters from ultra-nationalist and outright fascist volunteer militia.

Harper was accompanied on his trip by representatives of the right-wing Ukrainian Canadian Congress and its affiliates, including the Canadian representatives of Army SOS, which is supplying military equipment and weaponry to the Ukrainian army and aligned militias.

While the Harper government claims that it is not providing lethal military equipment to the Kiev regime—in line with current US, EU and NATO policy—Army SOS is doing so, with Ottawa’s encouragement. Through its networks of Canadian volunteers, Army SOS has supplied the Ukrainian Army and its militia allies with uniforms, medical equipment, surveillance technology including drones, and lethal weapons such as parts for sniper rifles.

The participation of Army SOS representatives in the delegation Harper led to Kiev this past weekend underscores the support it enjoys at the highest levels of the state. Earlier this year, an Army SOS event in Toronto, which raised over C$50,000, was addressed by two Conservative MPs.

On the eve of the Harper’s departure for Kiev, Ukraine’s chargé d’affaires in Canada, Marko Shevchenko, hailed Canada’s role, claiming that Ukraine’s “relations … with Canada are deeper and much more significant than with any other country in the world.”

This comment underscores the close ties between Ukraine’s ultra-nationalist government, Harper’s Conservatives, and the Canadian ruling class more generally.

Shevchenko hailed the military aid being provided by Ottawa. “The Canadian government, led by Stephen Harper, is,” he said, “the world leader in providing such non-lethal assistance to Ukraine.”

In comments which say a great deal about Canada’s constant involvement in imperialist wars in recent years, Sevchenko said Ukraine stood to benefit greatly from Canadian military assistance. “The Canadian Armed Forces has big experience in contemporary war,” he said. “Ukrainian forces didn’t have such experience until last year.”

The wars Shevchenko referred to include: Canada’s leading role in NATO’s bombardment of Yugoslavia in 1999; its 10-year deployment of troops in the Afghan war; its prominent role in NATO’s 2011 “regime change” war in Libya; and its on-going deployment of aircraft and special forces personnel to Iraq and Syria, in a war aimed ostensibly at combating ISIS, but which aims to shore up US hegemony over the world’s most important oil-exporting region.

As during these previous interventions, the Harper government’s embrace of the far-right Kiev regime and aggressive stance against Russia enjoy overwhelming support within Canada’s political and corporate elite.

Jack Harris, the defence spokesman for the official opposition, the trade union-supported New Democratic Party (NDP), made clear his party’s support for Harper’s actions to support the Kiev regime and NATO’s provocative deployments on Russia’s borders, declaring, “we do not have a problem with that at all.”

Paul Dewar, the NDP’s foreign affairs spokesman, weighed in with a call for additional sanctions on Russia over the case of imprisoned Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko. He added, “I want to reassure, from our side of the House, the people of Ukraine that we are there to help the people of Ukraine.”

James Bezan, the parliamentary secretary to national defence minister Jason Kenney, made a telling reference to the integration of the activities of SOS Ukraine with those of the Canadian state. Bezan said,“We also have people over there who have done great work, such as Lenna Koszarny, who is a Canadian living in Ukraine. …. She is working with our ambassador, Roman Waschuk … to make sure … that our great military equipment is getting into the right hands and is being well-used.” Koszarny is a coordinator of Army SOS as well as a leading member of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress.

The House of Commons debate also shed light on Ottawa’s direct involvement in imposing brutal austerity measures on Ukrainian workers. After praising Porroshenko’s commitment to “significant,” “market-based,” “structural and economic reforms” to tie Ukraine’s economy to the West, International Trade Minster Ed Fast boasted that Canada is “playing a role in those reforms.”

The economic advisory council that President Poroshenko has established, continued Fast, “is actually headed by a Canadian, Mr. Basil Kalymon of the Richard Ivey School of Business at Western University.”

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Canada Evades its Genocidal Legacy to Mask its Ongoing Crimes

When the Killers conduct the Autopsy, don’t expect the Truth

By Kevin Annett
June 7, 2015
Dissident Voice

Whenever the winners of a war write its official history and pronounce absolution on themselves, the results are both tragic, and comic. Canada demonstrated that in spades this past week when the government-run Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) released its “official” report on the homegrown church-and-state slaughter of thousands of native children in the so-called “Indian residential school” system.

Despite the rapturous attention the TRC report received in the world press, it said nothing we didn’t already know, and that I personally didn’t broadcast to a deaf world as far back as June of 1998. What the TRC report did do was to cast a thick veil around Canada’s crimes of the past in order to protect its crimes of the present, like institutionalized child trafficking.

To the uninformed, and to those who somehow consider it legitimate for criminals to investigate themselves, it is a convincing enough veil. All the right words were used in the TRC report, concealed of course by horror-softening adjectives: an antiseptic term like “cultural genocide” becomes a substitute for the truth of tortured bodies, sterilized genitals, and violated and torn little children tossed into mass graves at night. Can 50,000 dead innocents really constitute simply a “cultural” extermination?

Besides, regardless of its beguiling doublespeak and outright lies, the TRC report could hardly have unearthed any type of truth about crimes in the residential schools when the primary perpetrators of those crimes – the Catholic, Anglican and United Church of Canada – were given years to destroy incriminating evidence, trash or hide documents, silence eyewitnesses and obliterate grave sites stuffed with their young victims.

Any judge that allowed a suspected killer to do such a thing would obviously be charged with aiding and abetting crime, and removed from his office. But that’s precisely what the TRC – whose Directors were nominated by these same churches – allowed them to do.

At what even the media called the “circus like atmosphere” at the TRC forums, any residential school survivor who wished to speak had to submit their statement to the TRC officers for screening and censoring before they could make them. Then they got a whopping ten minutes to make their statement. Yet Church officials who used the forum to spout their “we were only trying to do good” propaganda had no such time restrictions placed on them. “It was disgusting, like sitting in the same room with my rapist and having to go through it all over again” one old Cowichan woman said to me after a TRC event in Victoria, BC.

Even worse, whenever survivors mentioned the names of their torturers or those who’d killed children, it was all carefully stricken from the TRC transcripts. That fact alone goes far to disqualify the TRC from any claims at legitimacy or legality: something the global media seem to be ignoring.

“How can all this crap produce anything but a total white wash of our genocide?” bemoaned Squamish Chief Gerry Kiapilano to me after sitting through an early TRC forum in Vancouver.

A white wash is precisely what the TRC report produced, seven years later. But if one can stomach sifting through its hundreds of politically correct, lawyer-crafted pages, much of which is distraction and padding, the ultimate strategy of the report does emerge: namely, to minimize the total dead body count in the residential schools so as to “prove” that the genocide wasn’t intentional. For if there’s no intention, there is no crime, under the law.

Half the children dead is clearly a deliberate genocide, whereas one tenth of them dead is simply “negligence”. And so the TRC spin machine went to work to convince us that, rather than the figure of 50,000 and more dead children yielded by a simple calculation of the constant 40% plus death rate that was the norm for nearly a century, only “four of five thousand” kids actually died.

That low a figure, spread over more than one hundred residential schools, means that according to the TRC, only fifty children died in the entire system every year, or one death for every second school! Such a grotesque Holocaust denial is not only absurd but disproved by all of the records, which routinely report dozens of deaths at individual schools every year, especially in the west.

Given such bald faced deception, it’s hardly surprising that the TRC chairman, a puppet native named Murray Sinclair, recently issued the lie that “the (Canadian) government stopped publishing residential school death records in 1920”. That’s an odd claim to make, even for a sellout, since I have time and again found and published such government death records that span the years 1889 to 1969. I even sent copies of them to Murray.

If the intent of these “schools” wasn’t genocidal, then why did that enormous death rate of 40% to 60% never subside, decade after decade? And why was it present the very first year that the western residential schools opened, in 1889?

Neither the TRC, nor anyone in Parliament or the media or the universities, has ever bothered to address these questions, any more than they are searching for all of those missing children in the twenty eight mass graves documented by me across Canada. For to do so would be to point towards the obvious conclusion that the TRC was established to avoid: that Canada and its churches deliberately exterminated tens of thousands of children, and that this genocide machine has never been turned off.

The massive trafficking and torture of indigenous children through the government’s “child care” and foster care system; the continual murder of reserve Indians for their lands and resources; and the “Agenda 21” plan of depopulating indigenous nations to one tenth of their present levels by mid-century are the hard indicators of these ongoing Canadian crimes that the TRC was set up to conceal.

Fortunately, there is a little matter called International Law, which ever since the Nuremberg judgements has clearly said that citizens under a proven criminal regime like Canada are not only obligated but required not to pay it taxes or obey its laws. Such a regime, in fact, has lost its right to govern, and it must be replaced by a new political arrangement that is lawful, and that reflects the will of the people.

In short, more than damage control was at work in the TRC fiasco. The very survival of that corporate redundancy called the crown of England is at stake, especially now that patriots have proclaimed an alternative to it and to genocidal Canada, through the new common law jurisdiction of the Republic of Kanata.

Rather than the neat resolution hoped for by its blood soaked creators, the TRC has unwittingly opened the door to the disestablishment of Canadian church and state as convicted criminal actors, by confirming that thousands of children died at their hands. None of us are compelled to cooperate with genocidal institutions, and indeed, to do so is to collude in a crime against humanity.

Amidst a similar revolution against the British crown and its tyranny in 1778, Thomas Paine observed that regimes that are collapsing tend to make decisions that are increasingly suicidal, as if seeking out their own destruction. Christian Canada and its sponsors in London and Rome have borne out this axiom. The only question now is whether We the People of Kanata will take advantage of such an historic opportunity, and cleanse our country once and for all of its legacy of institutionalized mass murder.

Kevin Annett is a proudly excommunicated former pastor of the United Church of Canada and a recovering Canadian. Read other articles by Kevin, or visit Kevin’s website.

Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Report and the crimes against the native people

By Carl Bronski
June 6, 2015
World Socialist Web Site


The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) issued its report Tuesday documenting the horrific abuse suffered by 150,000 First Nations, Inuit and Metis children at residential schools between the 1840s and 1996.

The century-and-a-half policy of forcibly removing aboriginal children from their families and communities and herding them into faraway schools run mainly by the Roman Catholic and Protestant Churches, amounted, said the report, to nothing less than a “cultural genocide.” One, moreover, that has left deep scars on indigenous people up to the present day. At the height of the program in 1931 there were 80 residential schools across the country with 15,000 captive native children.

The TRC—comprised of its chair, Manitoba Justice Murray Sinclair, journalist and broadcast executive Marie Wilson, and lawyer and former Conservative MP Chief Wilton Littlechild—was appointed by the federal Conservative government in consultation with the Assembly of First Nations as part of a negotiated settlement to a class-action law suit against the federal government and Canada’s churches brought by residential school survivors.

Over the course of six years, the TRC took testimony from 7,000 residential school survivors and reviewed hundreds of thousands of documents. It found that the residential schools were a central component of a Canadian state policy designed to “cause Aboriginal peoples to cease to exist as distinct legal, social, cultural, religious and racial entities in Canada.”

In releasing the Executive Summary of the TRC report (six volumes of documentation will be forthcoming), Sinclair noted that between 5,000 and 7,000 children died whilst in the custody of the residential schools from disease, malnutrition, fires, suicide and physical abuse. Many were buried even without a name recorded. Parents were not notified as a matter of course. Many residential schools had no playgrounds for the children, but did have cemeteries. Healthy children were consciously placed in dormitories with children suffering from tuberculosis. Sick and dying children were forced to attend class and sit up in church. Malnutrition was rampant. Testimony from school survivors recounted how hungry children would raid the slop-buckets of livestock for additional sustenance.

Discipline was harsh. Children were often corporally punished for speaking their native language. Teachers would berate them as “stupid Indians.” Humiliation and de-humanization were part of the regime. One survivor recounted that the shoving of children’s faces into human excrement was a standard punishment. In some institutions, children were not addressed by name but by number. Survivor testimony described a life without love or human warmth but fraught with fear, beatings, hopelessness and, in the dreaded dead of night, rampant sexual abuse.

Despite the government’s purported aim of providing education to residential students, especially in the form of workplace skills, school administrations more often used the children as indentured labour, imposing back-breaking chores for up to half of the school day. School text books were a rarity, with Christian religious indoctrination a priority.

TRC Chair Sinclair received a loud ovation Tuesday from a ballroom full of school survivors, Band Chiefs and aboriginal advocates when he characterized the more than century-long government residential school policy as “cultural genocide.” The term comes from the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, a non-binding document reluctantly signed by the federal government of Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, but deemed only “aspirational” and not immediately implementable. Those cheering Sinclair’s declaration were also cognizant of the 2011 statement from John Duncan, Harper’s former Aboriginal Affairs Minister, that the residential school system was not part of a program of “cultural genocide,” but rather simply “education policy gone wrong.”

The TRC report, however, avoids a crucial conclusion arising from any objective study of the horrendous history of the program—that the aboriginal policy pursued by the Canadian capitalist state was not simply aimed at the eradication of a culture but at the eradication of a people. The 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, defines genocide in legal terms as “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about the group’s physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”

The tribulations suffered by generations of aboriginal children in the residential schools fall into most, if not all, of these categories. But many of those pulling back from a characterization of Canadian government policy towards the native population as genocidal—including the administration at the Canadian Museum of Human Rights—downplay the question of conscious “intent.”

The historical record contradicts this approach.

Policies geared towards physically expunging native populations as part of the Canadian state’s westward expansion have been documented by many historians. James Daschuk in his recent book Clearing the Plains, for example, describes the approach of Canada’s first governments towards its aboriginal population as “outright malevolent.” Policy statements called on government agencies “to starve uncooperative Indians onto reserves and into submission.” Treaty guarantees for food in times of crisis were ignored. Government agents allowed food to rot rather than distribute it to starving native bands. The 1876 Indian Act codified aboriginals as an inferior group and made them wards of the state. In 1885, Canada’s “founding father” and first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, bragged to parliament of his government’s fiscal stewardship, pointing to its refusal to give food to hungry, malnourished First Nations people “until the Indians were on the verge of starvation, to reduce expense.”

Under Macdonald, who presided over the Canadian state’s dispossession of the native peoples in today’s Prairie provinces, the residential school system was greatly expanded and systematized and, in the process, directed even more deliberately against the indigenous population. In 1883, he told an agreeable parliament: “When the school is on the reserve the child lives with its parents, who are savages; he is surrounded by savages, and though he may learn to read and write his habits, and training and mode of thought are Indian. He is simply a savage who can read and write. It has strongly been pressed on myself, as the head of the (Indian Affairs) Department, that Indian children should be withdrawn as much as possible from the parental influence, and the only way to do that would be to put them in central training industrial schools where they will acquire the habits and modes of thought of white men.”

The argument that “intent” to destroy native populations was not evident in the policy of Canada’s capitalist elite flies in the face of subsequent developments.

In 1909, Peter Bryce, an official of the Ontario Health Department was commissioned by the federal government as the country’s first Chief Medical Officer to report on the health conditions of aboriginal children in residential schools in western Canada. Bryce, citing an average death rate of between 30 and 60 percent, reported that children in the schools were malnourished, living in squalid, freezing conditions and being systematically exposed to tubercular patients. He accused officials of deliberately killing the students through their actions and inactions. Furthermore, church and school officials were consciously falsifying mortality records.

The report was quashed by the Department of Indians Affairs and the recommendations ignored. Bryce was later dismissed from his post. Said Duncan Scott, then head of Canada’s residential schools program, Bryce’s report “does not justify a change in the policy of this Department which is geared toward a final solution of our Indian problem.”

In Alberta in 1928 and British Columbia in 1933 acts were passed allowing for the forcible sterilization of residential school students. It has been estimated that as many as 3,000 children underwent this procedure. And recently, a report surfaced showing that in the 1940s and 1950s malnourished aboriginal children in residential schools were used by government researchers in dubious medical experiments that systematically kept them on starvation diets, denying them milk, nutrients, vitamins and dental treatments to measure health outcomes. The “research” was done with the full knowledge of Canada’s then Liberal government.

The government’s subsequent treatment of native children changed little. From 1960 until 1986, as many as 20,000 aboriginal children were taken from their families, placed in either residential schools or non-indigenous foster homes, or put up for adoption.

Even today, as a result of the deplorable poverty and squalor to which large parts of Canada’s native population are subjected and the paternalistic attitude of the state, First Nations children make up more than 50 percent of Canadian children in foster care. Under Manitoba’s NDP government others are housed, without proper care and supervision, in run-down “welfare” motels .

The continuing abuse and neglect of the aboriginal peoples is one of the historic crimes of Canadian capitalism and one that exemplifies the true character of Canadian “democracy.” It is critical for the political development of the Canadian working class that it recognizes this and fights vigorously to oppose the oppression of the native population.

In a second article, to be published at the beginning of next week, the WSWS will detail the political context and debate over the Truth and Reconciliation report. This will include an examination of the dismissive attitude adopted by Prime Minster Stephen Harper, the report’s ostensible embrace by the opposition parties and much of the corporate media, as well as the government-appointed Commission’s recommendations. These are aimed at reconciling the native people to Canadian capitalism and the Canadian state, not ending the system responsible for their oppression.