The fall has been a season of mists and changing of the top-guards, at many provinces and at the federal leadership. We briefly outline some changes.
Legacy Of Ontario Tory Rule.
In Ontario, the electorate has definitively rejected the Tory cabinet and party, which had created out of its cutbacks to all public sectors, a growing poverty. Having ruled Ontario for the last eight years, the Tories leave a legacy of sleaze, poverty and falling standards in health, education, and public fabrics. The sops they offered the working class were fueled by a supposed tax cut to the people of Ontario. These “tax-cuts” of course were largely tax cuts to the corporations of Ontario. Food banks have never been busier or more needed in Ontario – the richest province in Canada. Not only that, but a growing physical danger from pollution of water (at Walkerton a small community, 10 died from E.Coli contaminated water from cattle farming), from health inspectorates unable to properly ensure food and water quality due to cut-backs; and continued corruption in daily life with the infamous rake-offs to public companies in selling off crown lands (the so called Rouge Valley and Oak Ridge Moraine), the proposed selling off of electricity (with huge Hydro salary corruptions of the board and CEO’s), and the sale of highway private road systems ( licensed at rock-bottom prices to ensure huge bonuses to construction companies). Public opposition had prevented the sale of Hydro One to private enterprise. As opposition mounted, the Tories retreated, throwing hugely cheap electric rates at the peoples as a bribe. Further tax cuts as a bribe were offered, but only to the parents of the wealthy whose children were to be sent to private schools.
As the new Liberal Government swept into power, they learn that the so-called “Balanced Budget” was in reality a very carefully hidden deficit of approximately $5-6 Billions. Naturally this will allow the Liberals more than enough wiggle room to continue the assault of the capitalist class on the working class of Ontario. But already the reneged promises are haunting the Liberals led by Dalton McGuinty. Gone – the promise to increase public funding especially in schools – gone the promise to protect the environment at Oak Ridge Moraine – gone the promise not to raise taxes – gone the promise to maintain electric costs at current levels. Perhaps rarely have so many elections promises been broke so rapidly.
But what is the current alternative? It is as well to remember what led to the victory of the Tory party in Ontario, eight years ago. The dogged subservience of the social-democratic Party – The New Democratic Party (NDP) when in power, so convinced Ontario workers of its corruption, that they booted them out. Premier Bob Rae of the NDP, revealed the NDP colours, while pursuing the same Liberal agenda of cut-backs in public spending on health, education and services. What the Liberals could not do under Premier David Peterson’s premiership, the NDP did for the capitalist class. The workers well recall that legacy, hence in this election the NDP only obtained 7 seats, thereby losing official party status with all its’ attendant privies in organising. It is true that this represented some 12% of the popular vote. In a choice between the open capitalist class warriors of the Tory or the Liberal Party – no doubt the NDP led by Howard Hampton appears more congenial. “Alliance Marxist-Leninist!” advocates Vote NDP to support the opportunists in power – just as a rope supports a hanged man. In power, they can be exposed. Out of power, they harbour illusions for the workers. Nonetheless, the class will not forgive the NDP quickly. Nor should the lessons of social-democracy be forgotten – what is needed is a new Bolshevik party of the working class in Ontario and Canada.
Meanwhile, the architect of all this more recent human devastation – Mike Harris the former Ontario Tory Premier, and leader of the so-called “Common Sense Revolution”, remains secure in big business. He was being seriously touted as the first leader of the new conglomeration of the right wing of the capitalist class – the merged Progressive Conservative Party and the Alliance Party. The Alliance party as is well know, is a party of extreme red-neck ultra-conservatives. Their line often embraces a ‘fuzzy” racism, that treads just short of open race hatred. But the stench around Harris’ role in the killing of Dudley George proved too much, and he has withdrawn from the race.
Who Is Mike Harris?
Harris was directly implicated in the decisions around the fatal shooting of the native Indian protester – Dudley George. On September 6th 1995, George was one of some two dozen natives who were occupying Ipperwash Provincial Park (on the shores of Lake Huron) in protest against what they termed: “desecration of ancestral burial grounds”. Although the officer of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) who actually pulled the trigger, Sergeant Kenneth Deane – was convicted of criminal negligence, the question was “who gave the order?” Both Harris & “Public Safety Minister” Bob Runciman were named as co-defendants. Affidavits filed in court state that: “hours before Mr. George was shot dead, Mr. Harris told cabinet colleagues that he was personally in charge of the police operations… The information only became public only recently because of repeated delays in processing freedom-of-information requests, caused by the Conservative Governments ability to stall release of details of the confrontation between the protesters and the Ontario Provincial Police at Ipperwash”; Globe & Mail; Toronto; October 3rd 2003; p.A17.
Using the monies of the province, and its army of lawyers, Harris & Runciman fended off the George family civil suits. With the Liberal election victory, the family of George has taken a new tack. They accepted a settlement of $100,000 and legal costs, from the OPP. However, they remain convinced that Harris is the real target. They anticipate that the Liberals will hold a judicial enquiry into the matter, and say that: “The family has never sought legal judgment for money and instead, seeks the truth through a public judicial enquiry”; Ibid. Since the family have said this for years, Mike Harris’ claims that this settlement “vindicates him “The allegations against me were totally unfounded” – are fatuous. It is to be hopped that indeed an enquiry does take place under public gaze.
Let us see what the public enquiry brings.
2) MEANWHILE AT THE STATE HELM ….
The old fox Jean Chrétien has finally stepped down for his ex-Finance minister Paul Martin Junior. This shuffle at the top in particular shows the futility of expecting capitalist governments to change their spots through leadership conventions and minor window dressing. Let us look at who Paul Martin is.
Prime Minister Paul Martin – Scion of Big Business
Golden Spoon to Power
Paul Martin comes from a historic family of the Canadian
capitalist class. He was born on August 28, 1938 in to
Paul Martin, Sr.,
who spent 39 years as a member of the House of Commons
and ran three times for the leadership of the Liberal Party, from 1948 to 1968. After
studying law at Toronto, Martin Jnr drew to power at 29 years of age, in
1967. He began work for Power Corporation. Power Corporation was largely
owned by Paul Desmarais, Sr.,the ninth richest person in
Canada. Demarais, started in transport, with control
of bus lines in Ontario and Quebec. Linking with Toronto-based Imperial Life
Assurance and Gesca Ltée, (with interests in the paper La Presse),
he made a share-exchange offer with Power Corporation of Canada, Desmarais
became Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. According to wickpeida:
“Amongst its numerous worldwide holdings, Desmarais'; Power Corporation of Canada owns 25% of Groupe Bruxelles Lambert, one of Belgium’s top ten companies which, in 2001 acquired control of the German publishing giant, Bertelsmann AG. “
Martin became the hit-man of the corporation:
“Martin became the turn-around guy, the troubleshooter from head office who took charge of an underperforming company. He would slash waste, work with or replace executives, lay off personnel.” Graham Fraser
Within 3 years, Martin was President and CEO of Canada Steamship Lines Ltd (CSL). Eschewing “the Great Lakes.. a Canadian pond” he made the company a world wide shipping power, using government subsidies. Martin attacked "the gnomes" of the federal Department of Finance if they refused CSL tax breaks: "We can compete on the oceans as well. But they won't let us out there." Buying out CSL as a personal venture for $195 million, he used government subsidy to build it into CSL Ship Atlantic Superior in 1982. Within a year, he argued that the shipping industry is "now in serious trouble", and that the Department of Finance is "bent on squeezing every penny out of the industry." His Federal government subsidies for the shipbuilding industry, of around 20 percent, ended in 1985, and in a year CSL closed its large shipyard in Collingwood and its 800 jobs.
Entering Politics, Hiding his Business interests
When he ran for parliament in 1988, he piously declared: "To heck with the guidelines, the only answer is full public disclosure." But on the same day, CSL replaced the Canadian flag on three of its ships with flags of convenience, all crew were changed to foreign crew saving one million dollars a year. Martin also became the sole owner. But despite his high words, Martin went to pains to hide his business conflict of interests. By 1989, many of the CSL vessels were flagged out of Bahamas. Convenient since in 1991, the tax laws changed, exempting Canadian-based shipping firms from international earnings. Having threatened to move out of Canada, CSL graciously stayed.
In the 1993 majority government of Chretien, Martin was made Minister of Finance. He wrote, then later ignored the Red Book (Election Promises) commitments on social spending, international development and climate change. By 1994, increased scrutiny had forced Martin to submit to a “Supervisory Agreement to allow his lawyer and Canada Trust to assume his share of control in Passage Holdings and CSL Group Inc.” But this was not a “blind trust”. It allowed him a "peek-a-boo clause" to "personally intervene in order to exercise the rights and privileges associated with the shares or the assets" in the case of "an extraordinary corporate event." In 1994, in his first budget Martin stirringly declared: “Certain corporations are not paying an appropriate level of tax. Accordingly, we are taking measures to prevent companies from using foreign affiliates to avoid paying taxes which are otherwise due." But meanwhile Martin allows the Barbados tax refuge, and CSL International moves offices from Liberia to the Barbados.
Shipping Magnate & Captain of Industry Cuts Canadian Social Fabric
So what did CSL become? A major corporate empire is the answer:
“Although CSL is privately held and therefore not required to publicly disclose its financial records, CanWest News recently reported that CSL controlled assets worth upwards of $693 million and had annual revenues of $283 million. The CSL Group operates 37 bulk carriers across the world under the banner of Canada Steamship Lines and CSL International based in Massachusetts. According to company literature, it's "the largest fleet of dry bulk self-unloading vessels in the world." Paul and Sheila Martin also own 50 per cent of CSL Equity Investments Ltd which in turn owns a broad portfolio of property in Alberta, Quebec, Ontario, Arizona and Colorado, including condominiums, office buildings and property. The company also controls shipbuilding and ship design companies on the Great Lakes. The Martins, among other things also own the Dunbar and Varsity cinemas in Vancouver.”
EDITORIAL: The Asian Pacific Post.
Meanwhile, between 1995 – 2000, Martin severely cut the Canadian social fabric. This “balanced the budget”, by shifting costs to provinces. Then in 2000, he ordered $100 billion tax cuts. By 2002, Martin had quit as finance minister to orchestrate his leadership bid.
Since 1993, he had used the "peek-a-boo clause", 12 times to discuss CSL's business dealings with the CSL board. He resisted calls to divest himself of CSL saying: “I just couldn't live with myself if this dream was turned over to another country . . . I could not bear that Canada Steamship Lines . . . would suddenly find itself nothing but a collection of ships being run from the States." (National Post 1 March 2003) . Finally under pressure, by 11 March 2003, he announced his decision to sell the company to his sons, because it would "provide an unnecessary distraction during the leadership race". He has announced that his economic priorities is to further drop the debt to GDP ratio. Yet this is what he has already done – ruthlessly.
As Wikepedia encyclopedia
summaries his career from the appointment as Finance Minster:
“At the time, Canada had one of the highest annual deficits of the G7 countries and was teetering on the verge of a financial crisis. As Finance Minister, Martin began making drastic cuts to government spending and was ultimately responsible for a deficit-free budget for five consecutive years for the first time in 50 years. The Canadian provinces and territories, which all receive federal funds each year for various programs, also had to implement fiscally stricter policies in light of Martin's cutting the amount each province is given annually. During his tenure, Canada fell in the UN's quality of life ranking from first to eighth place. During his tenure, he was responsible for lowering Canada's debt-to-GDP ratio to about 50 per cent from a peak of 71 per cent in the mid-1990s. In December 2001, he was named as a member of the World Economic Forum's "dream cabinet". The global business and financial body listed Martin along with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan as top world leaders.”
Who Does Martin Represent?
Martin rapidly built up a war chest of 11 million to ensure his victory of the leadership campaign. He undoubtedly knows the right strings to pull to get donations. These are listed below, all big businesses of Canada are there:
“'Huge team of fundraisers racked up close to $11-million for Martin's campaign… The list of donors to Mr. Martin's campaign reads like a who's who of the country' corporate leaders, including Harry Steele, who controls radio station operator Newfoundland Capital Cor. He made one of 11 $100,000 single donations. British Columbia's billionaire businessman Jimmy Pattison also gave $100,000, as did the McCain family, owners of a food-processing empire, and the Irving family of New Brunswick, who built their empire from shipbuilding, lumber and media holdings. ….. Corporations that gave $100,000 cash donations include Price Waterhouse Coopers and KPMG, two major accounting firms that often receive government contracts. CanWest Global, owner of the National Post and several major dailies across the country, also kicked in $100,000. Another big in-kind contribution came from Earnscliffe Strategy Group, a powerful Ottawa-based lobbying and public relations firm which received many lucrative contracts from the Finance Department during the 1990s. The company, where many of Mr. Martin's advisers and campaign workers have their day-jobs, gave $67,000. … There wasn't just MPs there. . . Perhaps the biggest single donor was Gerry Schwartz (Onex Corporation). Through his companies Onex Corp and Celestica, he gave in the neighbourhood of $300,000, in both cash and in-kind contributions. Other companies that gave heavily in in-kind contributions include McCarthy Tetrault, a law firm which donated $147,000. “Paco Francoli
”Among the latest to line the Martin campaign coffers are donations of $100,000 from Izzy Aspers CanWest Global, $100,000 through four companies controlled by media tycoon Conrad Black, and $100,000 from Robert Lantoss Alliance Communications, now merged into Alliance Atlantis. Vancouver businessman Michael Chins AIC Ltd. gave $100,000.Toronto businessman Gerry Schwartz's American Farm Inc. donated $75,000, on top of $75,000 earlier donated by his Onex Corp.”
Asian Pacific Post 2003.
But it is not just industrialists who gave Martin a hand. Labour lieutenants also came to sup with Martin. Tony Dinisio, the head of the Universal Workers Union brought $750,000 to Martin at an event in Toronto. Aaron Freeman of Democracy Watch, warns of the reasons that these big-shots are ponying up money:
"When they are bankrolling the most powerful politician in government," he stressed, "we should worry.. In fundraising, even if you believe that most donors give out of a sense of citizenship, at a certain point you got to be saying to yourself, 'This is no longer citizenship; this is an attempt to buy access or influence,'" he said in an interview.
"If someone gives you $100,000 you are going to feel a sense of obligation to that person". Francoli Ibid.
Where Will Martin Take The Canadian State?
Steven Staples Director of the Polaris Institute's Corporate-Security State Project points out Mr Martin’s commitment to the USA on military matters:
“If Martin has been evasive on his position on many policy areas, he cannot be faulted for a lack of clarity on military matters: he favours much closer military cooperation with
the United States, wants to boost Canada's already substantial level of military spending and supports joining the ill-considered American National Missile Defense system (NMD).
Martin has made building a closer personal relationship with President Bush a high priority. A few days after meeting with U.S. Ambassador Paul Cellucci in April, he announced
his intention to lead Canada into NMD, increase military spending to build a more aggressive combat force and even break with the United Nations and go to war if necessary. “ Staples.
It is not that the Canadian Government has kept out of the USA imperials adventures in Iraq.
As the Canadian Coalition Against War puts it, Canada has been a “Silent Partner in Iraq War”. In fact, Canada ranked third on the list of nations supporting the USA:
"The Canadian government’s pretense that it did not support the latest Iraq war was repeated ad nauseum by the mainstream media. The ugly reality, however, is that Canada
ranked third on the list of nations supporting the U.S. – just behind Britain and Australia… Canada’s government was silent about its role in aiding and abetting this illegal war.
It was unwilling to be declared a member of the “Coalition of the Willing,” preferring – hypocritically – to act as if it had taken a principled stand against the war. Amazingly, the
Liberal government’s public relations experts once again skilfully managed to maintain their party’s popular, but illusory, public image of a global peace-mongerer while simultaneously
engaging in many blatant acts of complicity in this latest war”.
They itemise these complicit acts:
“• Leading the Coalition’s Navy: Canada led the multinational naval taskforce in the Persian Gulf. Some 1,300 Canadian troops, aboard state-of-the-art, multi-billion-dollar Canadian
warships, rallied to protect U.S. aircraft carriers so they could “safely” position themselves to launch air strikes against Iraq.
• Coordinating Air Battles: Canadian military personnel aboard E-3 AWACs aircraft helped to direct the war. E-3 aircraft are mobile nerve centres of modern air war.
Canadian crews helped coordinate and manage air battles, and filled command, weapons control and communications roles. http://members.rogers.com/overcoat/PDF/16.pdf
• Providing War Planners: Canadian war planners worked among the war strategists at U.S. Central Command (CentCom) headquarters at McDill Air Force Base, Florida.
At least two dozen of these Canadian war strategists moved with CentCom when it relocated to the Persian Gulf, just before the war.
• Providing Military Transport Planes: At least three Canadian CC-130 military transport planes were listed by the U.S. military as having helped to supply coalition forces during the war.
• Parts and Services for Major Weapons: At least 100 Canadian corporations contributed components and/or services for at least 35 of the major weapon systems that were used in the latest
Iraq war. Index listing Canadian corporations and the major weapons delivery systems that they provided with components &/or services: http://members.rogers.com/overcoat/PDF/10.pdf
Links to data on 33 major weapons delivery systems used in current Iraq war, with Canadian components &/or services http://members.rogers.com/overcoat/warmachines.html
In 2002 alone, Canadian contractors sold about US$440 million worth of military equipment to the U.S. The vast majority of this hardware was used in the Iraq war. Canada:
Top U.S. Supplier of Major Weapons in 2002 http://members.rogers.com/overcoat/PDF/38.pdf
Canada's Exports of Light Armoured Vehicles to the U.S., 1994-2002 http://members.rogers.com/overcoat/PDF/39.pdf
Canadian Corporations Selling Parts to the U.S. Military, 2001-2002 http://members.rogers.com/overcoat/PDF/40-43.pdf
• Welcoming U.S. War Planes: U.S. warplanes have Canadian government permission to:
(1) fly through Canadian airspace to and from the war,
(2) stop over for refuelling in Newfoundland and PEI,
(3) “perform” at Canadian “air shows” to provide “entertainment” for children of all ages, and
(4) conduct low-level, training and bombing exercises through seven “flight corridors” in Canada.
• Freeing up Troops: By providing extra troops for the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan, Canada freed up U.S. troops for the Iraq war.
• Diplomatic Support: On numerous occasions, Canadian government officials gave diplomatic support for the war. For instance, Prime Minister Chrétien said that the U.S.
had a “right” to go to war with Iraq, and that Canadians should not question the war because this gives comfort to Saddam Hussein.
• Military Testing: (1) Two types of cruise missiles (AGM-86 and AGM-129) were tested in Canada, 1983-1994. http://members.rogers.com/overcoat/PDF/32.pdf
(2) The RQ-4A “Global Hawk” surveillance drone flew test flights over Alberta and BC in 2000. http://members.rogers.com/overcoat/PDF/25.pdf
[Source: "Operation Embedded Complicity: Canada, Playing our Part in the Business of War," Press for Conversion!, issue #52. Published by the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade (COAT).”]
But all this was not enough for Bush’s government.
It is clear that Canadian Big Business has decided to align itself firmly with the USA.
Alliance previously described Canadian business reaction in the days of PM Mulroney , when it agreed to throw its hopes into the American pot and the NAFTA.
The national capitalist class recognised that it had such a powerful neighbor that it could do little else. Under Chrétien there was a slight hold-up. But the last hurrah has been shouted,
as the Liberal Party has now been firmly hijacked for the pro-USA camp. This more overt realignment to come under Martin, meets with the approval of the largest Canadian corporations:
“By signing on with the Americans' security priorities, Martin seems to be siding with Canada's corporate community, which is anxious to more closely integrate the Canadian and U.S.
economies through greater military and security cooperation. The most prominent organization pushing this agenda is the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, led by long-time free trade
advocate Tom d'Aquino. D'Aquino has organized an "action group" of 30 CEOs to promote his plan, called North American Security And Prosperity. The group includes powerhouses
from the banking, oil and gas and defence industries. On the team is former Canadian ambassador to the U.S. Derek H. Burney, currently president of CAE Inc., which gets hundreds of
millions of dollars a year in military contracts, many from the Pentagon.”
The implications for Canadian federal expenditures are of course immense:
“Canada already spends $13.5 billion on its military, an amount that ranks us sixth-highest among NATO's 19 members. This year's billion-dollar increase was the largest in more than a decade.
But some of Martin's supporters in the Liberal caucus have said that commitment should be doubled in the coming years, a move that would inevitably take a big bite out of existing social programs.
Further, Canada's financial contribution to the incalculably expensive NMD system could take billions from scarce public resources over the life of the program. One military official recently
revealed that the Department of National Defence has quietly allocated nearly $500 million for the program, should the government decide to join. That's just for starters.”
Paco Francoli “Paul Martin thanks his fundraisers”
November 10, 2003; Vancouver Independent Media Center
EDITORIAL: Trusting Paul Martin Inc; The Asian Pacific Post Sept. 18, 2003; http://www.primetimecrime.com/Articles/20030918EMartininc.htm
NDP website: http://www.flyourflag.ca/chronology/
Graham Fraser, “Martin's long journey Politics in his life at an early age A varied business background too”; Toronto Star; November 15 2003; http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&c=Article&cid=1068765011357&call_pageid=968332188774&col=968350116467
Steven Staples, “Missile monger Martin's Star Wars zeal shows scary tolerance for U.S. Adventures”; Nov 26 2003; Vol 23 No. 12; http://www.nowtoronto.com/issues/2003-11-20/news_story8.php; "Now”; Nov 26 2003; Vol 23 No. 12; http://www.nowtoronto.com/issues/2003-11-20/news_story8.php; also see www.ceasefire.ca