Tag Archives: Stephen Harper

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.


The author also recommends:

Canada’s Bill C-51: A sweeping assault on democratic rights and legal principles—Part 1
[6 March 2015]

Canada’s Bill C-51: A sweeping assault on democratic rights and legal principles—Part 2
[7 March 2015]

Canada’s NDP belatedly opposes Conservatives’ draconian “anti-terror” bill
[23 February 2015]

Canada: Why is the Globe and Mail denouncing Harper’s latest “anti-terrorism” bill?
[18 February 2015]

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.

See http://revolution-news.com/ukrainian-euromaidan-putin-just-another-fascist-political-coup/

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 helping arm Kiev regime to fight Ukrainian civil war
[11 March 2015]

Canada’s parliament adopts bill to greatly expand intelligence agencies’ powers

By Roger Jordan
May 8, 2015
World Socialist Web Site


Canada’s House of Commons voted late Wednesday to adopt the Conservative government’s Bill C-51, which, in the name of combatting terrorism, overturns core democratic rights and legal principles

In its third reading, the House voted by 183 to 96 in favour of the legislation. It will now be sent to the Senate for final approval, with the government pressing for Bill C-51 to be proclaimed law before the month’s end.

Bill C-51 authorizes the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) to break the law and violate the Canadian constitution’s “Charter of Rights and Freedoms” in disrupting groups or individuals the state deems to pose a threat to the country’s national security.

While the government has presented CSIS’s new “disruption” powers as directed at terrorist plots, the legislation defines national security in sweeping terms so as to include purported threats to the country’s economic security, territorial integrity, diplomatic interests or constitutional order. The activities CSIS will be permitted to undertake could include everything from breaking into homes and offices to steal computers and seizing bank accounts, to pressing employers to fire national security suspects or mounting smear campaigns against them.

The legislation’s sweeping definition of national-security threats means that CSIS can and will target dissident political groups and protesting workers. Both CSIS and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) have a notorious record of targeting leftwing and working-class organizations stretching back decades.

Not insignificantly, some of the language Bill C-51 uses in describing national security threats echoes that which the Harper government has employed in justifying illegalizing strikes, including by Canada Post, Air Canada and CP Rail workers.

Bill C-51 would also create a new “speech-crime” under which persons could be jailed for up to five years for the promotion of terrorism “in general.” The speech in question need not have been tied to any actual or planned terrorist attack, nor made in public. As legal experts and even sections of the corporate media have observed, this new criminal offense is so vaguely and broadly defined that it could readily be used to target those who express sympathy with groups like Hamas (officially designated a terrorist organization under Canada’s Anti-Terroism Law) or the pro-Russian insurgents in Ukraine, or who oppose Canada’s participation in imperialist wars in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Bill C-51 will also expand the police’s power to detain terrorist suspects without charge and empower the courts to remove “terrorist propaganda” from the internet. The state’s ability to impose travel bans and other restrictions on individuals who have never been charged let alone convicted of a crime is also being greatly expanded.

Bill C-51 guts Canadians’ privacy rights, giving the various national security agencies virtually unfettered access to all government information about individuals who become the subject of a national security investigation. Such investigations, as the Conservative government-appointed Privacy Commissioner noted, can be triggered by simply visiting a country like Pakistan, Afghanistan, or Iran.

Harper’s Conservative government is ramming Bill C-51through parliament at breakneck speed, while whipping up a climate of fear so as to intimidate all opposition to its draconian measures. Since last October’s killings of two Canadian Armed Forces personnel by two disturbed individuals, Harper and his government have systematically portrayed Canada as a country under siege by terrorists, so as to provide justification for the shredding of democratic rights at home and a policy of aggressive war abroad. Just last weekend, Harper seized on his visit to Canadian military personnel in Kuwait involved in the US-led bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria to promote Bill C-51.

In parliament, the government ensured that the bill was subjected to only the most perfunctory scrutiny. The time allowed for consideration of its provisions at the committee stage was extremely curtailed. Only a small number of witnesses were permitted to make brief appearances and those who questioned the bill’s provisions—the vast majority—were routinely derided by government MPs as enablers of terrorism.

The handful of amendments the Conservatives subsequently made to the bill will have virtually no impact on its scope. The attempt to reassure critics that those engaging in civil disobedience and other “unlawful” protests will be exempt from CSIS disruption campaigns is worthless given the ease with which the state can designate such protests as national security threats, if not acts of terrorism.

Despite expressing concerns with certain aspects of the bill, the Liberals voted in favour of it Wednesday evening as they did in the bill’s first and second reading. Party leader Justin Trudeau has claimed that if the Liberals form the government after the upcoming federal election, they will make amendments, but they have conspicuously joined with the government in asserting that the powers of the national-security apparatus must be massively expanded.

Responding to NDP MP Wayne Marsden’s criticism of the Liberals’ stand on Bill C-51, Liberal defence critic Joyce Murray stated, “I would ask the member whether he would want it on his conscience should there be an attack that leads to deaths of Canadians because of the loopholes that the bill is attempting to fix?”

Like the Official Opposition NDP, the Liberals’ main objection to the bill has been the lack of oversight of the intelligence agencies by vetted representatives of the ruling elite.

While the NDP did vote against Bill C-51, its opposition is of a thoroughly unprincipled character. For nearly three weeks after Harper’s late January unveiling of the legislation, the NDP remained almost completely silent, issuing no substantive critique of the bill’s numerous anti-democratic measures. Only after a significant section of Canada’s ruling elite, led by the Globe and Mail, had sharply criticized the bill, warning that so blatant a break with democratic forms of rule could undermine the legitimacy of the government and state, did NDP leaders Thomas Mulcair belatedly announce that his party would oppose Bill C-51.

The NDP never sought to mobilize Canadians in opposition to Bill C-51 and draw the connection between it and the broader assault on democratic rights, whether in the form of the criminalizing of strikes or the Communications Security Establishment’s (CSE) systematic spying on the metadata of Canadian electronic communications

Instead, the social-democrats did everything to reassure the ruling class that they have no fundamental disagreement over maintaining in place the vast array of anti-democratic, police-state measures implemented since 2001. Mulcair even went so far as to say that if the NDP forms the government after the election, it will not seek to repeal Bill C-51, only, like the Liberals, amend it.

The complicity of the opposition parties has exposed the bankruptcy of the perspective advanced by various protest groups like Openmedia and Protest Canada that have organized “Stop Bill C-51” rallies in recent weeks. While providing an indication of the growing popular hostility to the attack on democratic rights being mounted in the name of combating terrorism, the rallies have been orientated toward pressuring the big business political establishment through a “non-partisan” protest campaign.

This is spelled out on the “StopBillC-51” website. “The silver lining,” it declares, “is that this is an election year and public opposition and support are particularly important to MPs this year. The Bill can be shut down in one of two ways: 1. By having it voted down. If the Liberal MPs can be pressured to change their stance on the bill and every other MP voted against the bill, it would only take seven Tory MPs to break ranks to vote the bill down… 2. By delaying the third vote until parliament breaks for election.”

Nothing could be more bankrupt than seeking to rely on the Liberals and the other parties of the establishment to stand up for democratic rights. It was a Liberal government that began the onslaught on basic rights in the aftermath of 9/11, enshrining a catch-all definition of terrorism in the Criminal Code and vastly expanding the powers of the police and intelligence agencies, including sanctioning CSE’s spying on Canadians’ electronic communications.

The Chretien Liberal government’s break with long-standing democratic and legal norms, together with the construction of a mass surveillance apparatus, was part of an international process which saw the ruling class around the globe turn decisively towards authoritarian forms of rule. In all of the major imperialist powers, the purported threat of terrorism has been used to develop and enforce a vast array of repressive measures that have as their ultimate target the broad masses of working people.

The backdrop to this turn toward authoritarian forms of rule in Canada, as around the world, is an unprecedented growth in social inequality and the ruling elite’s pursuit of an agenda of austerity and war that is inimical to the interests of the vast majority. These processes have intensified since the 2008 global economic meltdown, as the bourgeoisie steps up its class war assault on public services and worker rights. Growing working class opposition has been met with increasing state violence, including the illegalization of virtually all strikes in the federally-regulated sector, the suppression of the 2010 anti-G-20 protests in Toronto, and the Quebec Liberal government’s use of police violence and emergency legislation against the 2012 Quebec students strike.

The imminent adoption of Bill C-51 has illustrated once again that no section of the political establishment can be relied upon to conduct a genuine struggle against the assault on democratic rights. All of the parliamentary parties are complicit in the building up of a vast national security apparatus whose foremost and true target is the growing popular opposition to big business and it agenda of austerity and war.

To stop the authoritarian Bill C-51 and dismantle the reactionary police-state apparatus built up over the past decade and more requires the mobilization of the working class on the basis of a socialist and internationalist programme as fought for by the Socialist Equality Party.

This author also recommends:

Canada’s Bill C-51: A sweeping assault on democratic rights and legal principles—Part 1
[6 March 2015]

Canada’s Bill C-51: A sweeping assault on democratic rights and legal principles—Part 2
[7 March 2015]

Canada’s NDP belatedly opposes Conservatives’ draconian “anti-terror” bill
[23 February 2015]

Canada: Why is the Globe and Mail denouncing Harper’s latest “anti-terrorism” bill?
[18 February 2015]

A Canadian in Occupied Palestine

Thanks to Stephen Harper, ‘Canada No Good!’

By Gary Leech
May 7, 2015
Counter Punch


Walking through the old city of Nablus in the West Bank last week, I encountered a Palestinian man who worked as a tailor in the small store situated in his family’s home. We struck up a conversation. “Where are you from?” he asked me. “Canada,” I replied. Shaking his head from side to side, he stated, “Oh, Canada no good!”

The next day I was riding in a taxi in the city of Ramallah, which is the Palestinian capital of the West Bank and seat of the Palestinian Authority government. The driver asked me where I was from. Again I replied, “Canada.” He raised his index finger in the air and while moving it side to side declared, “Canada no good!”

These were not isolated examples of Palestinian anger towards Canada; that disenchantment was publicly expressed by Palestinians this past January when Foreign Minister John Baird visited Ramallah. A group of protesters took to the street and pelted Baird’s motorcade with eggs and shoes while holding up placards declaring, “Baird is not welcome in Palestine” and “Shame on you, John Baird.”

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat responded to Baird’s visit by stating, “We regret the Canadian government’s decision to stand on the wrong side of history by blindly supporting the Israeli occupation and its apartheid policies.” He went on to note, “Canadian FM John Baird has contributed to Israeli violations of Palestinian inalienable rights, including our right to self-determination, by systematically lobbying against all Palestinian diplomatic initiatives. This includes his attempts to legitimize the illegal Israeli annexation of Occupied East Jerusalem.”

Baird had travelled to Ramallah from East Jerusalem and Erekat argued that the Canadian foreign minister’s meetings with Israeli government officials there violated UN Security Council resolutions 476 and 478, which prohibit “the Occupying Power” from altering “the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem” and condemn the 1980 law passed by the Israeli government making Jerusalem the official capital of the Jewish state. Erekat claimed that Baird’s meeting with Israeli officials in East Jerusalem was an attempt to legitimize Israel’s illegal annexation of that part of the city.

Tariq Dana, a professor in the Ibrahim Abu-Loghoud Institute for International Studies at Birzeit University in Ramallah, further explained Palestinian anger towards Ottawa by claiming that “Canada has surpassed the United States to become the number one supporter of Israel.” By this, Dana is not referring to military and economic aid, but rather to Canada’s unconditional political support for Israel on the international stage.

Before the election of Harper, Canada professed a position of neutrality and support for a negotiated settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But since 2006, in addition to having Baird meet with Israeli officials in East Jerusalem, Harper has supported Israel unconditionally by backing the Jewish state’s three military assaults on Gaza (2008, 2012 and 2014) and refusing to publicly criticize Israel’s expansion of Jewish settlements in the Occupied Territories even though the foreign affairs department’s website acknowledges that the settlements violate international law.

Harper has repeatedly stated that Israel has a right to defend itself from Palestinian attacks, including declaring last year that “Canada is unequivocally behind Israel. We support its right to defend itself” against rockets fired by Hamas. At best, Harper’s position ignores the historical reality of the conflict. At worst, it distorts it.

In 1948, Jewish residents of Palestine who had recently migrated to the region from Europe unilaterally announced the creation of a Jewish state when a UN partition plan to create Israel without the Palestinians having any voice in the process was not implemented. The Palestinians and surrounding Arab states opposed the plan because it violated the principles of national self-determination in the UN charter under which Palestinians should have the right to decide their own destiny. Within a year of unilaterally establishing Israel, the new Jewish state consisted of 77 percent of Palestine and almost a million Palestinians were forced to flee and have since lived in refugee camps in the West Bank and surrounding countries.

Following the 1967 war with several Arab states (Syria, Jordan and Egypt), Israel militarily occupied the remaining 23 percent of Palestine (the West Bank and Gaza). The UN Security Council responded by passing Resolution 242 demanding the “Withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict.” The United States has used its veto power in the Security Council on 41 occasions to ensure that the numerous UN resolutions condemning Israel have never been enforced.

It wasn’t until after the Palestinians were forced to exist under Israel’s illegal military occupation in 1967 that the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) decided to make armed struggle the centerpiece of its campaign to achieve a Palestinian state. And it wasn’t until after 20 years of enduring an oppressive military occupation and the unwillingness of the international community to enforce UN resolutions that sectors of Palestinian society became increasingly radicalized and formed Hamas. In desperation, Hamas began using suicide bombing as a tactic in the early 1990s because it could not combat the vastly superior US-backed Israeli military through conventional warfare. Beginning in 2001, Hamas also began launching primitive and inaccurate rockets into Israel from its Gaza strongholds.

2015-04-17 10.27.39

Israel is building a wall in the Occupied West Bank to separate illegal Jewish settlements from Palestinian communities. The wall also makes it difficult for many Palestinians to move around. Photo: Garry Leech.

Even though Israel withdrew its military from Gaza in 2005, it implemented a military blockade of the tiny territory the following year through which it strictly controls all access of people, food, medicines and other materials. Some analysts claim that Israel’s ongoing blockade of Gaza has created the world’s largest prison camp.

Meanwhile, Israel has not only continued its illegal occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, it has further violated international law by displacing Palestinian communities and encouraging Jews to move into the Occupied Territories. It is now estimated that some half a million Jews live in illegal settlements in the Occupied Territories despite UN resolutions demanding that they be dismantled. Israel is currently building a giant wall known as the separation barrier in various parts of the West Bank in order to segregate the illegal settlements from the Palestinians and to eventually annex them and make them part of Israel in yet another unilateral move.

In 1947, the year before Israel declared itself a sovereign state, Palestinians lived in 94 percent of Palestine. Today, they inhabit a mere 15 percent with some five million living in refugee camps in the West Bank and surrounding countries. As one refugee in the al-Amari refugee camp in the West Bank told me, “We have a dream to return to our lands. How long it will take and what generation it will be, we don’t know.”

Given this history, Harper’s claim that Israel has the right to defend itself contradicts the reality on the ground. Surely it is the violence carried out by people forced to live under an illegal military occupation that should be considered an act of self defense. After all, the French Resistance to the Nazi occupation of France during World War Two is viewed as a heroic struggle for national liberation. But instead of backing the Palestinian struggle for liberation, Harper has instead provided Israel with unconditional political support, including during its three military assaults on Gaza over the past seven years.

According to the United Nations, the Israeli military’s seven-week invasion of Gaza last year resulted in the deaths of 2,025 Palestinians, including 1,483 civilians, of whom 521 were children. Meanwhile, 71 Israelis died, of which 66 were soldiers. Additionally, more than half a million Palestinians were forcibly displaced from their homes by the assault.

The disproportionate number of Palestinian deaths has been a long-running theme in the conflict. In the past 15 years, 8,701 Palestinians have been killed by Israelis compared to 1,138 Israelis killed by Palestinians. The disparity in the number of Palestinian children killed is even greater with a total of 1,772 killed during that period compared to 93 Israeli children.

Despite the best efforts of the Harper government and the mainstream media to portray Israel as the victim in this conflict, the numbers make evident who is doing most of the killing and who is doing most of the dying. In short, how can a people forced to live under an illegal foreign military occupation be the aggressors?

While Baird was on Palestinian territory in East Jerusalem in January to emphasize Canada’s support for Israel, he further infuriated the Palestinian people by arrogantly stating publicly that the Palestinian Authority “made a huge mistake” by applying for membership in the International Criminal Court (ICC) in an effort to hold Israel accountable for its war crimes and other crimes against humanity.

Fully aware of the pro-Israeli role being played by Canada, another Palestinian man I met in Ramallah also voiced his dissatisfaction upon discovering my nationality. “Canada is not nice to Palestinians,” he declared. I wasn’t sure how to respond. Clearly, he was right. And, as a Canadian, I could only agree with him and feel ashamed.

Garry Leech is an independent journalist and author of numerous books including Capitalism: A Structural Genocide (Zed Books, 2012); Beyond Bogota: Diary of a Drug War Journalist in Colombia (Beacon Press, 2009); and Crude Interventions: The United States Oil and the New World Disorder (Zed Books, 2006). ). He is also a lecturer in the Department of Political Science at Cape Breton University in Canada.


Harper visits Iraq to laud Canada’s role in Mideast war

By Roger Jordan
May 6, 2015
World Socialist Web Site


Stephen-HarperIn a previously unannounced trip, Prime Minister Stephen Harper last weekend visited Canadian Armed Forces’ (CAF) Special Forces troops based in northern Iraq and air force personnel in Kuwait.

Harper used the trip to promote Canada’s expanding role in the new US-led war in the Middle East and his government’s push to dramatically expand the powers of the national-security apparatus at home—falsely portraying both as necessary responses to Islamic terrorism.

In separate meetings with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi and Masoud Barzani, the president of the autonomous Kurdish region, Harper reaffirmed the Conservative government’s commitment to continued military action in the country and in neighbouring Syria.

Harper sought to cast the military intervention as a humanitarian mission aimed at protecting the civilian population from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). He announced modest sums of aid, totaling some $160 million, to assist reconstruction in Iraq and help several other Middle Eastern countries deal with the massive influx of Syrian refugees.

Reviewing the trip, Harper commented, “Most importantly, I got to convey my personal thanks to Canadian troops for helping protect our own citizens as well as innocent children, women and men in the region from the barbaric actions of ISIS.”

In reality, the war is a dirty imperialist enterprise, which arises out of the series of wars the US has mounted since 2003 to maintain strategic dominance over the world’s most important oil-exporting region . While ISIS has served as the pretext for the return of US and other western troops to Iraq, the ultimate goal of Washington and its Mideast allies, like Saudi Arabia and Turkey, is the replacement of the Assad regime in Damascus, which is closely allied with Iran and Russia, by one more pliant to US interests.

In line with its fulsome support for US imperialist aggression around the globe, Canada has committed 69 Special Forces troops to training and advising Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq, and six CF-18 fighter jets, two surveillance aircraft, and a refuel-plane, supported by some 600 CAF personnel, to assist coalition bombing missions.

In late March, the government extended Canada’s military mission in the Middle East until April 2016 and authorized the CAF to join bombing runs in Syria, making Canada the only one of the US’s western allies to attack Syria. Bombing Syria is a flagrant violation of international law and tantamount to a declaration of war on Syria’s government.

To date, CAF planes have flown more than 800 sorties over Iraq and Syria, with well over 500 of these CF-18 bombing missions.

Initially, the claim was made that ground troops in Iraq were engaged in a “non-combat” mission, and that they would merely be training and advising Kurdish militiamen behind the front lines. But within months, it was revealed that Canadian troops were making regular trips to the front to direct attacks against ISIS positions and call in air strikes by coalition aircraft. In January, the Canadian military acknowledged that around 20 percent of the time, the Special Forces troops are at the front.

This issue emerged during Harper’s trip due to the death in March of Sergeant Andrew Doiron as a result of a mix-up with Kurdish forces. Doiron and a group of Canadian soldiers were allegedly mistaken for ISIS fighters by a frontline Kurdish post, resulting in his fatal shooting.

With investigations still ongoing, Harper attempted to downplay the significance of the incident, while covering up the true character of the Canadian army’s operations in the region. “Look, this was a terrible tragedy. We will get the facts, but let it not obscure, frankly, the respect I think we should have for the Kurdish fighters in this area,” said Harper.

The Canadian prime minister’s unwillingness to apportion blame for the incident is part of ongoing attempts to smooth over tensions between Canadian and Kurdish forces, which, in the immediate aftermath of the fatal shooting, offered differing accounts of the circumstances surrounding it.

Canada’s involvement in the latest Mideast war is being driven by economic as well as geopolitical considerations. In recent years, Iraq has emerged as a major trading partner for Canada, with bilateral trade in 2012 totaling more than $4 billion, making it one of Canada’s largest trade partners in the Middle East. Moreover, Iraq is viewed as offering major growth opportunities for Canadian oil and infrastructure companies.

In recognition of this, the Conservative government last year named Iraq one of Canada’s “development partners.” This designation allows Baghdad to receive additional financial aid and other support from the Canadian government.

The Kurdish region is one of the most lucrative parts of the country for Canadian investment. Several oil companies and other businesses have operations there, and the Harper government opened a trade office in the regional capital, Irbil, last year. The office is responsible for expanding Canadian investment throughout Iraq, and was promoted by the government at the time as necessary because the Iraqi economy was one of the fastest growing in the world.

While in Irbil, Harper took time to visit the Irbil office of Melwood Geometrix, a Montreal-based company that specializes in making prefabricated concrete.

Media commentators noted the campaign-style character of this and many of Harper’s other appearances in Iraq and Kuwait. His meeting with the local Melwood Geometrix manager took place in front of running cameras, and after a greeting, Harper was handed a Montreal Canadiens hockey jersey.

During his stop in Kuwait, Harper cultivated the image of a wartime prime minister with appeals to Canadian nationalism and militarism. An article on the IPolitics website described the scene when Harper addressed air force personnel in Kuwait as follows, “In front of him, dressed in combat fatigues, stood the pilots and support crews deployed there for the Canadian mission against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Behind him were two CF18s parked at diagonal angles, and between them was a large Canadian flag.”

Although it remains unclear if the Conservatives will call an early election, it is beyond question that whether the vote takes place this spring or next October, they will mount an extreme rightwing campaign, whipping up bellicose Canadian nationalism and appealing to anti-Muslim sentiment.

Harper has already served notice that he intends to portray the opposition parties as “soft” on terrorism, because they have not fully endorsed the CAF combat mission in the Middle East and said that if elected to office, they will amend Bill C-51, the Conservatives’ legislation giving sweeping new powers to the national security apparatus. These new powers include authorizing the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) to break virtually any law in disrupting what it deems threats to Canada’s national and economic security or territorial integrity, and giving state agencies unfettered access to all government information on individuals named in national security investigations.

Whilst on his whirlwind Middle East tour, Harper went out of the way to put in a plug for Bill C-51. Said Harper, “We’re working to give our security agencies the whole range of modern tools necessary to identify terrorists and to thwart their plans, including greater ability to stem the recruitment and the flow of home-grown fighters.”

Within hours of Harper leaving the Middle East, a lengthy exposé appeared in the Montreal daily La presse that sheds light on the true, neo-colonial character of the Canadian military’s ever-growing list of foreign interventions. La presse revealed that over a two-month period between December 2010 and January 2011, CAF military police physically abused and psychologically tortured 40 Afghan detainees in an attempt to coerce information from them. Heavily-armed military police repeatedly invaded the cells where the detainees were being held, forced them to the ground and against walls, and otherwise threatened and abused them in an effort to terrorize them. After a complaint was made, the military authorities were compelled to investigate but hushed up the entire affair, with no one involved subject to any disciplinary action whatsoever.


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[2 May 2015]

Canada hikes military spending

By Keith Jones
May 2, 2015
World Socialist Web Site


Canada’s Conservative government announced a major increase in military spending in last week’s federal budget.

Starting in 2017, base military spending will be increased by three percent, rather than the current two percent. This will result in an additional $11.8 billion in Canadian Armed Forces’ expenditures over a decade. As the increases are compounded, the military budget in 2026 will be a whopping $2.3 billion higher than hitherto budgeted.

Last week’s budget also announced $390 million in additional military spending in the current fiscal year, which began April 1. This is above and beyond the $18.941 billion in expenditures outlined in the spending estimates the Conservative government presented to parliament in early March.

Of this $390 million, fully $360 million is to fund the extension and expansion of Canada’s role in the new US-led war in the Middle East. At the end of March, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the Canadian Armed Forces’ intervention in Iraq is being extended for a further 12 months, till April 2016, and that Canadian war planes will now bomb targets in Syria as well as Iraq.

According to Defence Minister Jason Kenney, by April 2016, Canada will have spent $520 million on waging war in Iraq and Syria.

The budget also gave the Canadian Armed Forces $7.1 million in additional money to fund the deployment of 200 military trainers to the Ukraine, where they will train forces loyal to the pro-western government that was installed in Kiev as a result of the US-engineered, fascist-spearheaded February 2014 coup.

The Conservatives’ latest military spending increases have elicited little comment from the corporate media. But significantly, what comment there has been has taken the government to task for doing too little, too late—that is for not dramatically raising spending so as to quickly reach NATO’s target of military expenditure equivalent to at least two percent of GDP.

The Ottawa Citizen, for example, published an article titled “Federal budget: Despite annual funding boost, defence faces uncertain times.” It cited a series of military analysts complaining that the Conservative increases are back-loaded to 2017 and are insufficient to counteract the cuts the government imposed as part of its drive to balance the budget, while continuing to lower taxes on big business and the rich. What the article conveniently omits is that these cuts were only levelled after the Conservatives, continuing on the trajectory of the Martin Liberal government, had hiked Canada’s military spending to the point that, in 2011, it was in real—i.e. inflation adjusted terms—the highest it had been since the end of the Second World War.

There is little doubt the Harper government views the military spending increases announced in its recent budget as a mere down-payment. On its drawing boards are massive plans for rearmament, including the purchase of a new generation of jet-fighters, most likely the US F-35, and a whole fleet of war ships. But, with an election slated for this October, the government found itself boxed in by the combination of a rapidly deteriorating economic situation—which compelled it to resort to all sorts of accounting tricks and improvised one-time measures to fulfill its long-touted deficit elimination pledge—and popular opposition to the Canadian elite’s aggressive militarist agenda.

Last September, when Harper was questioned by reporters about the discrepancy between his push for NATO to ratchet up pressure on Russia and his soft-peddling of its call for member states to pledge two percent of GDP on military expenditures, the prime minister frankly admitted that the Canadian people would not “understand” such a dramatic hike in military spending.

The opposition parties have said even less than the media about the government’s plans to divert still more resources to the military, even as it ravages public and social services. This silence bespeaks their consent and support.

The entire political elite—from the Conservatives to the trade union-based NDP and the pro-Quebec independence Parti Quebecois and Bloc Quebecois—has supported the reorientation of Canada’s foreign policy since the turn of the century. This reorientation has seen Canada play a leading role in a series of US-led wars and military interventions, including the 1999 NATO war on Yugoslavia, the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, the 2004 ouster of Haiti’s elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and the 2011 NATO war “for regime” change in Libya.

The role of the NDP, which as late as 2003 still claimed to oppose Canada’s participation in NATO, has been especially significant. Time and again it has given its imprimatur to the attempts of the Canadian elite and its US partners to cloak their predatory actions in claims of humanitarian intervention and the “responsibility to protect.”

The claim that Canada, a major belligerent in both world wars of the last century, was a “peacekeeper” nation was always a fraud. It was part of an effort to promote a “left” Canadian nationalism during the 1950s and 1970s, the better to politically tame the working class. Throughout the Cold War, Canada was a staunch US military ally, a founder-member of NATO and its partner in NORAD. For close to half-a-century, Canada’s military resources were overwhelmingly devoted to planning for World War III with the Soviet Union. Such UN peace-keeping operations Canada led or joined were, it should be added, always mounted with Washington’s approval and support.

That said, Canada’s ruling class is eagerly participating in a resurgence of imperialism. Led by the US, the major capitalist powers have revived war as an instrument of policy, are rearming, and routinely trammel on international law and state sovereignty.

In keeping with Canada’s new aggressive foreign policy, the ruling elite has put paid to the notion of Canada as a “peacekeeper.” The media celebrates Canada’s military prowess in past and current combat, while Harper routinely proclaims Canada a “warrior nation.”

Whilst the Canadian Armed Forces did not wage war for four decades, stretching from the end of the Korean War till its participation in the 1991 Gulf War, it has been almost perpetually at war in this century, in Afghanistan (2001-2011), Libya (2011), and since last fall in Iraq and now Syria.

Furthermore, Canada is deeply involved in all three of the major military-strategic offensives the US is mounting on the world stage.

#It has joined the war against the Islamic State—a war that arises out of the series of wars the US has waged in the Middle East and has the same objective as they did, to secure US hegemony in the world’s most important oil-exporting region.

#Canada has long assisted the US in its effort to transform Ukraine into a western satellite and its drive to expand NATO to Russia’s borders. With the full support of the opposition parties, the Harper government has deployed Canadian warplanes to Eastern Europe and battleships to the Black Sea so as to bolster NATO’s threats against Russia.

#In 2013, Canada signed a secret military agreement with the US integrating Canada into the “Pivot to Asia,” Washington’s drive to strategically encircle and isolate China. It is also participating in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), through which Washington aims to establish a vast US-led economic bloc at China’s expense.

Canada’s Communication Security Establishment (CSE), it should be added, is one of the key partners of the US National Security Agency. The CSE is an integral part of both components of the NSA’s global operations: spying on the world’s governments and citizens, and assisting the Pentagon and CIA in waging war and eliminating “security threats.”

Like the US ruling class, Canada’s is rattled by the decline in the relative economic power of the US, its long-time strategic and economic partner, and the rise of new powers. It calculates it can best defend and assert its own predatory and increasingly significant economic and strategic global interests by supporting US imperialism in its drive to shore up its world position through the deployment of its military might, the one area where the US continues to enjoy massive superiority over all its rivals.

Imperialist aggression abroad goes hand in hand with the Canadian bourgeoisie’s ever-widening assault on the democratic and social rights of the working class at home—the criminalization of strikes, the expansion of the national-security apparatus and the systematic dismantling of public and social services.

Only through the systematic mobilization of the international working class on a socialist program against war, social inequality and in defence of worker and democratic rights can this imperialist resurgence and social counter-revolution be countered, and crisis-ridden capitalism prevented from sucking humanity down the vortex of escalating military conflict leading ultimately to global conflagration.

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Canada’s Fascist Shift

By Mark Taliano
May 1, 2015
Global Research


Bill-C51-Canada-Police-StateThe “fascist shift”, as described by author Naomi Wolf in The End Of America/ Letter Of Warning To A Young Patriot, is accelerating in Canada with the tabling of (“State Terror”) Bill C-51.

Though universally condemned by experts, and increasingly unpopular amongst Canadians, the Bill will almost certainly pass, as common sense and public opinion become the first casualties of Canada’s fascistic governance.

The following overlapping and intersecting fascistic strategies, as enumerated by Wolf, are being entrenched in Canada, all to the detriment of civil society, and to the benefit of a predatory system of top down governance and control:

Invoke an external and internal threat

The Harper government has manipulatively invoked the threat of ISIS to create unreasonable societal fear, so that it can advance an imperial agenda beneath the cover of lies and deceptions.

There are simply too many holes in the official ISIS narrative to accept it at face value.  There exists too much contradictory evidence of the West supplying ISIS with weapons and foodstuffs, and of the West not being “serious” about destroying ISIS  — in addition to the fact that the West and ISIS share common goals: namely, the conquest of Syria and further destabilization of the Middle East – to unquestionably believe the official government narrative.

As professor Michel Chossudovsky explains in, “America’s ‘Global War On Terror’, Al Qaeda And The Islamic State”:

“The Global War on Terrorism has become a consensus. It is part of war propaganda. It is also used by Western governments to justify and implement ‘anti-terrorist’ legislation. It is the cornerstone of the West’s demonization campaign directed against Muslims.

It should also be understood that the ‘Global War on Terrorism’ supports a process of ‘economic conquest’, whereby countries forego their sovereignty.”

But the unreasonable fear creates the pre-conditions for the government to impose Police State legislation on a compliant public that seeks “protection”.

Surveil ordinary citizens and target key individuals

Peaceful human rights advocates such as Drs. Pam Palmater and Cindy Blackstock are already being targeted and surveilled, at considerable expense, and for no legitimate reason, yet Bill C-51 promises to become even more intrusive and repressive.

Blackstock is an activist for child welfare as well as Executive Director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada.  Palmater is a lawyer and university professor who is an  activist for First Nations causes.

Canada’s Privacy Commissioner, for his part, argued that, Bill C-51 “would potentially lead to disproportionately large amounts of personal information of ordinary, law-abiding citizens being collected and shared,” and that, “this sets up the prospect of profiling and Big Data analytics on all Canadians.”

Surveillance of law-abiding citizens, under the watchful eye of “Thought Police” has the effect of putting a “chill” on freedoms of expression and assembly as guaranteed by Canada’s Charter of Rights.
It is not consistent with free and democratic societies, but it is yet another hallmark of Police State repression.

Subvert Rule of law:

Bill C-51 violates Section 35 of Canada’s Constitution by negating and denying rather than recognizing and affirming aboriginal and treaty rights.  First Nations have not been adequately consulted according to Canadian law.

Additionally, Bill C-51 derogates international rights.  According to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), issues that impact First Nations (such as Bill C-51) require the Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) of the impacted communities.

Cast criticism as ‘espionage’ and dissent as ‘treason’

Bill C-51 also subverts the rule of law by using poorly defined words that could be interpreted in a myriad of ways.  Megan Drysdale explains in “The Top 6 ways You Will Be Affected By Bill C-51”  that “innocent words” could be “interpreted as terrorism”:

“Innocent words can be interpreted as terrorism
Bill C-51 broadens the scope of propagation crimes to include advocating or promoting ‘terrorism offences in general.’ The wording of the bill is broad enough that a terrorist purpose is not required. Speaking privately about solutions to controversial conflicts or debating an academic opinion that ‘may’ cause a listener to commit a terrorist offence could count as an indictable offence for you, regardless of your own intentions. ‘Being reckless,’ as the bill describes it, can lead to up to five years in prison.”

Theoretically, then, an individual who exercises his/her freedom of dissent, and freedom to resist could be falsely branded in catch-all terms such as “terrorism”, or “espionage”, or even “treason”.
Government intentions revealed themselves in November, 2011 when NDP MPs Megan Leslie and Claude Gravelle were accused of treachery for travelling to Washington to communicate the NDP position regarding the tar sands. Leslie explained that they went “to propose a sustainable jobs strategy under a long term green energy future and to let her American interlocutors know there are Canadians who want tougher regulation of the tar sands.”

Restrict The Press:

The press has long been compromised by corporate monopoly ownership, but now public media is increasingly compromised as well, so much so that media has basically become an “arm of the government”.

A December 11, 2014 article entitled “The Conservative Broadcasting Corporation” , for example, shows that membership of the government-appointed Board Of Directors for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), is dominated by people who are, or have been, financial contributors to the reigning Conservative Party of Canada.

The messaging is further compromised by the government’s restriction of information sources.  The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), yet another “arm of the government”, is being used to audit “radical” charities.  Elizabeth Renzetti explains in “Silence of the Charities” that

“If you look at the 52 groups that have been targeted for audits since the Harper government’s 2012 crackdown on political activity by charities, it’s not hard to see what joins them: advocacy of causes that the Conservative government thinks are, by its own admission, “radical.” I don’t actually know the full list, because it’s not been revealed, but last year the CBC revealed the names of seven environmental charities, including the David Suzuki Foundation and Tides Canada. The free-speech group PEN Canada and human-rights advocates Amnesty International were also targeted. Some 400 academics signed a letter denouncing the audit into the political activities of the progressive think tank Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.”

Each of these “covert” strategies pollutes the collective mindset of the population in favour of the state, and makes a mockery of the notion of “freedom of the press”.

Arbitrarily detain and release citizens

Vague definitions of “terrorism” coupled with lowered standards for legitimate detention as outlined in Bill C-51 means that seemingly “one-off” debacles such as the mass arrests of demonstrators during the G-20 protests, described by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) as “unprecedented, disproportionate, and, at times unconstitutional”, could theoretically be “normalized”.
The threat of arbitrary detention and release is an impediment to freedoms of peaceful assembly, and freedom of expression, and another sign of a closing society.

Infiltrate citizen groups

The threat of agents provocateurs who infiltrate citizen groups also serves to stifle people from exercising their rights, as it puts a chill on peaceful demonstrations.

Maude Barlow, Chairperson of the Council of Canadians, explains in an Action Alert, that “three undercover police officers attempted to incite violence in 2007 at the Montebello protest against the Security and Prosperity Partnership,” and that,  “the proof of their actions was caught on film.”

Such actions, closely related to false flag operations, also serve to deny citizens of their rights of freedom of expression and peaceful assembly – two enemies of closing societies.

Develop a paramilitary force

Private, para-military agencies are making inroads into Canada’s military and security apparatuses. According to a National Post article, “Notorious security contractor Blackwater trained Canadian troops without U.S. permission: court documents”, dated August 8, 2012, Blackwater/Academi has had an untendered contract with Canada since 2006 for training to Special Operations troops and some police.

More recently, a Blackwater/Academi employee informed me, (in person), that his company will be providing security for the 2015 Pan Am Games in Ontario, Canada.

On the surface, what we know about the integration of para-military forces such as Academi into Canada’s military/security apparatuses seems fairly innocuous, however, para-military forces such as Blackwater/Academi have a huge presence overseas, and their covert operations, often with little oversight, and considerable immunity from prosecution, are increasingly involved in assignments that, until recently, would have fallen under the exclusive domain of the military.

Fascistic governments typically employ para military forces to create a buffer (of plausible deniability) to compromise transparency and accountability.

For example, Dawn Paley, author of Drug War Capitalism, explains in a research piece that,

“Through the 1980s, the Colombian state became increasingly paramilitarized, a process which ‘manifested itself as threats, bombings, and selective assassinations or collective massacres of government officials (principally but not exclusively from the left), and of popular political leaders, workers, peasants, professors, human rights activists, and members of nongovernmental organizations.’ “

Such is the danger when countries hire covert para-military forces, often beneath the radar, to advance their agendas.

Establish secret prisons

One final hallmark of the fascist shift as identified by Naomi Wolf, is the establishment of secret prisons.  Since the U.S has “black sites” throughout the world, Canada’s increasing “harmonization” with her ally, in terms of cross border policing and military operations abroad, raises red flags.  If our closest allies use gulags/black sites, are we not at least indirectly implicated?

Canadian diplomat Richard Colvin explains in, “Canada complicit in torture of innocent Afghans, diplomat says”, that “we detained, and handed over for severe torture, a lot of innocent people.”

While we may not yet have our own secret prisons, it would seem that we have used “secret prisons” abroad, to detain and torture innocent civilians.

Clearly, Canada’s fascist shift is in high gear, and Bill C-51, once passed, will put us in overdrive.

How will we ever be able to pull ourselves free of the mess that we’ve made?

Mark Taliano is Citizen Editor at Daily Clout.

Published first on Whatsupic

Canada’s Conservatives pledge more austerity and war

By Keith Jones
April 24, 2015
World Socialist Web Site


Stephen-HarperCanada’s Conservative government tabled its pre-election budget Tuesday. It is a blueprint for the continued dismantling of public services, redistribution of wealth to the most privileged sections of society, and expansion of the military and national-security apparatus.

The budget had two main audiences: Canada’s ruling big-business elite and the more privileged and reactionary sections of the middle class.

To the former, its principal constituency, the Conservatives pledged that there would be no let-up in its austerity drive and the intertwined push for ever-lower taxation of big business, the rich and super-rich. With its boasts of “strong leadership” and a “low tax plan for jobs, growth and security,” the budget also constituted an implicit pledge that once the elections are over, Stephen Harper’s nine-year-old government will press forward with unpopular “structural reforms.” Since winning a parliamentary majority in the 2011 federal election, the Conservatives have raised the retirement age to 67, slashed Employment Insurance eligibility and benefits, imposed a health-care financing “accord” that cuts tens of billions from Medicare, and effectively outlawed strikes in the federal public sector and federally administered industries.

The Conservatives’ right-wing electoral base of small businessmen and professionals, meanwhile, was rewarded with further tax cuts and tax shelters. The budget cuts the tax rate on small business to 9 percent over the next four years, in 0.5 percent increments, and it almost doubles the amount Canadians can place in Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSAs) annually to $10,000. The budget also reaffirms last November’s introduction of income splitting for couples with children, a measure, like the expansion of TFSAs, that is heavily skewed in favor of those with high incomes.

The Conservatives are making much of the fact that Canada is the first G-7 country to balance its annual budget since the 2008 financial crisis.

This purported “achievement” has come entirely at the expense of working people. While slashing the general corporate tax rate to 11 percent, among the lowest of any industrialized country, the Conservatives have slashed more than $14 billion per year from federal “discretionary” spending, eliminating close to 30,000 federal public service jobs and slashing services, from meat and railway inspection to Canada Parks.

As a result, federal spending as a share of the total economy is now the lowest it has been since the early 1950s, a period that predates the development, under pressure from the working class, of the welfare state.

That said, due to the rapidly deteriorating economic situation, the Conservatives have had to employ a series of accounting tricks and last-minute maneuvers to meet their long-announced goal of eliminating an annual budget deficit by the 2015-16 fiscal year. These include reducing the budget’s contingency fund from $3 billion to just $1 billion, selling the government’s shares in General Motors, once again pinching money from the Employment Insurance Fund, and backdating to last year new expenditures on veterans, among whom there has been a rash of suicides and a surge in mental and physical health problems.

In a report released last week, the Parliamentary Budget Officer warned that the collapse in oil prices and consequent slump in Canada’s economic growth means that the federal government is again threatened with a “structural” budget deficit.

The deepening world economic crisis has undoubtedly disrupted the Conservatives’ electoral agenda. While some in cabinet urged the government to respond with steep cuts in this year’s budget, Harper calculated that such action would too blatantly contradict the Conservatives’ electoral narrative, which paints them as prudent managers who have succeeded in sheltering Canadians from the worst of the world economic storm over the past seven years.

In the medium to long term, however, the emergence of a “structural deficit” will not be unwelcome news for Harper and his Conservatives. Their ever-expanding tax-cutting drive has had a double purpose: to redistribute wealth upwards; and to create perpetual fiscal pressure for further social spending cuts. Nicknamed “starving the beast,” this strategy, borrowed from the US Republican right, is aimed at providing a pretext for dismantling public services and, by systematically starving them of funds, creating a growing constituency in the middle class for privatization, especially of health care.

Tuesday’s budget did announce some new federal spending, but virtually none of it before the 2017-18 fiscal year. Moreover, new outlays on the military and national security apparatus dwarf all others.

Having exploited last October’s killings of two soldiers by disturbed individuals to introduce legislation that vastly increases the state’s coercive powers, the government is now hiking expenditure on “antiterrorism” measures, all told more than half-a-billion over the next 5 years.

Beginning in 2017 the government will increases base funding of the military by 3 percent per year, instead of the current 2 percent, resulting in a $12 billion increase over 10 years.

This is in addition to the $360 million the government is allotting this year to pay for Canada’s leading role in the new US-led war in Iraq and Syria and the more than $7 million in new money being set aside to pay for the Canadian Armed Forces’ Ukraine training mission.

With the overwhelming support of the corporate elite, the Harper government has deeply implicated Canada in all three of the major military-strategic offensives currently being mounted by the US—in the Middle East and against Russia and China. However, during the past year it has come under sharp criticism from the corporate media for curtailing military spending as part of its austerity program, after rapidly expanding it in its first five years in office. By 2011 Canada was spending more on the military in real (i.e. inflation-adjusted) terms than at any time since the end of World War II.

The budget contained two other politically significant announcements.

Finance Minister Joe Oliver said the government will bank $900 million in savings this year and hundreds of millions more in coming years as a result of cuts to federal employees’ sick-leave benefits. While claiming that the Conservatives are open to “good-faith” bargaining, Oliver declared that the government would impose its concession demands by fiat should the unions not submit to them voluntarily.

The government will increase spending on public transit infrastructure beginning in two years. But this money will only be available for projects that are Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs), i.e. are organized to enrich private investors.

Predictably, the opposition parties decried the budget. NDP and Liberal spokesmen made the obvious points that more austerity will only drive unemployment, now officially at 6.8 percent, higher and that the well-to-do will reap the lion’s share of the “savings” from the Tories’ tax measures. But they also made clear that, were they to come to power, they would leave in place the vast majority of the social spending and tax cuts implemented by the Harper government and its Liberal predecessors.

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau vaunted the Liberals’ fiscal record, a reference to the massive cuts made by the Chretien-Martin government between 1995 and 1997—cuts which are still held up as a model for capitalist governments around the world. “It’s a well-established fact,” said Trudeau, “Liberals balance budgets. Conservatives have been running deficits.” Trudeau went on to pledge a Liberal government would deliver a “fiscally responsible,” “balanced budget.”

The trade union-supported NDP is similarly committed to a “balanced budget.” It has vowed to introduce no increases in personal income taxes—even on the 1 percent, whose net incomes have swelled thanks to years of personal income and capital gains tax cuts—and only modestly increase corporate taxation.

There is massive anger in the working class against the dismantling of public services and the assault on pensions, jobless benefits, and other worker rights. But this opposition is systematically suppressed by the pro-capitalist unions. For decades, they have imposed wage cuts and other concessions, and when they can’t prevent the eruption of strikes, they isolate them and use the imposition or threat of anti-strike legislation to force a return to work. This goes hand in hand with the unions’ efforts to politically smother the working class by harnessing it the pro-austerity Liberals and NDP and, in Quebec, the Parti Quebecois.

The unions have declared that their main objective is the replacement of Harper’s Conservatives in next October’s election by a “progressive” government, that is, by a Liberal or Liberal-NDP coalition. Such a government would employ vague “left” phrases and gestures, the better to implement the ruling elite’s agenda of austerity at home and imperialist aggression and war abroad.

Canada: Conservatives fast-tracking Bill C-51 into law

By Roger Jordan
April 11, 2015
World Socialist Web Site


Canada’s Conservative government is determined to quickly ram into law Bill C-5—legislation that in the name of fighting terrorism attacks core democratic rights and legal principles and will vastly strengthen the powers of the national-security apparatus.

Bill C-51 has been sharply criticized by the Canadian Bar Association, numerous civil rights’ advocates, and much of the corporate media. Yet the House of Commons’ Public Safety Committee approved it last week after introducing only four minor, government-authored amendments.

This approval in hand, the government now intends to push for Bill C-51 to be rapidly passed into law, likely before the end of this month.

The vast majority of the 49 witnesses heard by the Public Safety Committee spoke out against various aspects of the bill’s draconian measures. Holding a majority on the committee, as they do in parliament, the Conservatives responded with parliamentary maneuvers to restrict debate and by repeatedly accusing the bill’s opponents of being apologists for terrorism.

Under Bill C-51, Canada’s premier spy agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), will be granted the power to disrupt activity, including by illegal means, that it deems endangers Canada’s national security, economic stability, territorial integrity, diplomatic interests or constitutional order. The legislation creates a new criminal offense of encouraging terrorism “in general,” gives the police expanded powers of preventive arrest and detention without charge, vastly widens provisions for the sharing of private data between government departments, and provides for no additional oversight of the police and intelligence agencies. (See: Canada’s Bill C-51: A sweeping assault on democratic rights and legal principles—Part 1)

The first government-authored amendment struck the word “lawful” out of a clause referring to activities that cannot be disrupted by CSIS. The impact of this change is that “protests” as opposed to “lawful protests” are now excluded from disruption by the intelligence services.

Some commentators cited this as a significant improvement, since it is now clear that even protests outside of the law, i.e. acts of civil disobedience, should not be interfered with by the intelligence agencies.

The reality is that the change will have almost no practical impact on the scope of the new CSIS power. The bill continues to provide for disruption powers to be employed by CSIS to deal with activity deemed to be a threat to Canada’s national security, a sweeping formulation that encompasses much anti-government or anti-corporate political activity.

The Harper government has repeatedly denounced strikes and other protest actions, such as the 2010 anti-G 20 protest in Toronto, as threats to Canada’s economic stability or national security. On numerous occasions it has illegalized or threatened to criminalize strikes on the grounds they were threatening “economic stability.” As recently as February, striking CP Rail workers were the targets of such action.

CSIS is already working closely with the government to track protests across the country and make plans for how to deal with them. The latest evidence of this came in a secret memo obtained via a freedom of information request revealing that CSIS was involved in consultations with the government on how to deal with protests last summer against the construction of the Northern Gateway oil pipeline in British Columbia.

The Conservatives’ second amendment restricts the government from distributing personal information on persons involved in national security investigations beyond federal agencies. Originally the bill allowed the government to share details with absolutely anyone it chose.

This amendment will do nothing to change the fact that Bill C-51 guts Canadians’ privacy rights, by authorizing the sharing of personal information between seventeen government departments and agencies with a national security role.

Moreover, as a leaked document revealed last weekend, CSIS is already going much further than was previously realized in sharing intelligence with allied spy agencies around the world. While the close ties between CSIS, Canada’s electronic spy service (the Communications Security Establishment), and its partners in the “five eyes”—the intelligence services in the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand—are well known, the report revealed that intelligence has been regularly passed to other countries referred to as “trusted partners” of CSIS.

The document, obtained by the Canadian Press, was heavily censored and did not indicate which countries are considered “trusted partners.” But the despicable role of Canadian intelligence in providing detailed information to some of the most brutal regimes in the Middle East, in what amounted to Canada’s own rendition program, has been well documented. The most notorious example of this was the case of Maher Arar, where CSIS supplied Syrian security forces with information to be used in his year-long torture and interrogation on bogus terrorist charges.

The amendments proposed by all of the opposition parties illustrated their lack of concern with the broad assault on democratic rights being carried out in the name of the struggle against terrorism. While the New Democrats (NDP) and Greens voted against the bill at committee stage, the Liberals are backing it.

Liberal public safety spokesman Wayne Easter sought to secure an amendment that would provide for limited parliamentary oversight for CSIS, while defending the expanded powers Bill C-51 would give the agency. Easter’s committee would have been comprised of six members from the House of Commons and three senators—all of them carefully vetted and sworn to secrecy.

Even this was too much for the Conservatives, who have ruled out any parliamentary oversight of CSIS’s activities or any additional oversight of any part of Canada’s national-security apparatus.

In so doing, the government has drawn criticism from significant sections of the ruling elite. Such mechanisms exist in the US, Britain, and Canada’s other “five eyes” allies and they have done nothing to prevent these countries from establishing vast intelligence-gathering apparatuses which spy on millions.

The criticism of the government’s refusal to bow to calls for greater oversight is part of wider concerns within important sections of Canada’s ruling elite about the extent to which Bill C-51 breaks with traditional bourgeois-democratic norms and the political consequences of such a break. Under conditions where class tensions are rapidly reaching the boiling point, with mounting opposition to the Conservatives’ assault on public services and pensions and other social rights at home and aggressive militarism abroad, layers within the bourgeoisie worry that such an authoritarian turn could seriously undermine the popular legitimacy of parliament and the other state institutions they depend upon to uphold their class rule.

This is above all what is motivating the stance taken by the NDP and Greens, who have sought numerous changes to the bill while refusing to reject its fundamentals. Green Party leader Elizabeth May, for example, proposed an alteration to the new criminal offence of promoting terrorism “in general” so as to explicitly exclude private speech. Even if implemented, this would leave otherwise untouched a new, undefined “speech crime” that will give the government a means to silence critics of both its foreign and domestic policy. As it stands, the provision does not require any link to an actual terrorist attack or even a plan for such an attack and makes use of an all-embracing definition of terrorism such that someone who even expresses support or sympathy for a group like Hamas, which has been designated a terrorist organization by Canada’s government, could potentially be charged with promoting terrorism and liable to a five-year prison term.

The NDP, which waited nearly a month after Bill C-51’s release before announcing its opposition, tabled around 40 amendments to the bill. NDP public safety spokesman Randal Garrison emphasized the party’s demand for some of the bill’s provisions to be subject to “sunset clauses,” i.e. regular parliamentary re-approval to remain in force.

In a statement meant to underline the NDP’s support for a dramatic strengthening of the coercive powers of the state, party leader Thomas Mulcair has stated that if the NDP forms the government after the coming federal election it will not repeal Bill C-51, only amend it.

The NDP has also hailed the signing of a letter by four former Canadian Prime Ministers opposing the bill. The signatories include Jean Chretien, who was Liberal Prime Minister in 2001 when the first anti-terrorism law was adopted in the wake of 9/11, and his successor Paul Martin. The law was a major assault on democratic rights, introducing into the criminal code a broad definition of terrorism and handing unprecedented powers of preventive detention to the police.

The NDP’s hailing of such figures’ limited opposition to Bill C-51 exposes the utterly fraudulent character of its claim to be an indefatigable defender of Canadians’ democratic rights.

This author also recommends:

Canada’s NDP belatedly opposes Conservatives’ draconian “anti-terror” bill
[23 February 2015]

Canada: Why is the Globe and Mail denouncing Harper’s latest “anti-terrorism” bill?
[18 February 2015]