November 30, 2008

YCL Update


Canadians have seen a dramatic development in Otttawa over the past three days, with open discussion of a coalition between the Liberals and the New Democrats. Read labour's response here:

The CEC of the YCL will be discussing our response to these developments and making a release shortly.


YCL clubs are getting out and proving that selling RY on campuses is achievable. In less than an hour, YCLers in St Catharines made $13.00 of Rebel Youth last week at Brock University Campus, before being illegally kicked-off by campus security. YCLers at Guelph University made $6 in sales in ten minutes before a YCL meeting, plus a subscription by the Guelph OPIRG. YCLers in Toronto made over $20 in about an hour of sales at the U of T.

From Tuesday to Sunday this week, a number of YCLers were at the CFS annual general convention in Ottawa this past week. We will be circulating a report on the meeting and political developments. One of the main topics of discussion was a statement in response to the financial crisis. The CFS is the Canadian Federation of Students, representing one half-million Canadian students. According to new data published in October by Statistics Canada, average undergraduate tuition fees increased by 3.6% in fall 2008 despite $800 million in new federal funding to the provinces for post-secondary education.

It should have been reported before, but YCLers in Manitoba joined in a demonstrations at the Conservative Party convention reciently, which was organized by peace, student, and labour forces. The Conservative's convention, among other things, expressed their support for the private members bill attacking abortion which is in second reading in the House.


The Central Executive Committee congradulates LJC(Q) organizer

Marianne Breton Fontiane for her successful nomination as a candidate for Quebec Solidare in the Quebec elections. Quebec Solidare is a left-wing political party that the Communist Party, together with other progressive forces, helped found. An article about the election will be in the next issue of Rebel Youth.

YCL Durham helped mobilize high school students into an large demonstration just over a week ago. The next issue of Rebel Youth will carry a story about how two young lesbian mothers were physically assaulted outside an elementary school when they were picking up their son. Oshawa responded with a mass community rally. Hundreds came, despite cold rain, showing support for the couple and gay rights.

YCLers in Vancouver held a movie showing of the film Persopolis recently. The movie is about a young woman in Iran who is inspired by her Communist Uncle. As she grows up and discovered sex, drugs and punk, she is caught up in a storm not of her own making as forces within Iran's anti-imperialist revolution turn against trade unionists, socialists, Communists, and other progressives -- while the whole country is constantly under pressure from the United States.

Vancouver YCL is celebrating the election of Jane Bouey, a former YCLer and activist in Vancouver being elected as a school trustee. We congradulate Jane, who has made a reputation fighting for students' rights, including in battles for queer student's. Stay tuned for more information about this victory for our movement in the People's Voice.

The Edmonton YCL reciently organized a movie night for friends and supporters. They showed the classic film, SALT OF THE EARTH, which was effectively banned by the US government during the McCarthy years of the cold war, because of its unabashed support of the workers and links to black-listed Communist film makers in holywood.

Members of YCL Guelph helped organize high school students into the major Drop Fees actions a few weeks ago. Over 30 high school students walked out of class and joined the protests, organized by the University of Guelph Student Union. This is tremendous achievement which students are building upon for next semester.

Youth struggles in the current period

Youth struggles in the current period
YCL-LJC Central Executive Committee
November 24, 2008

The 2008 October Federal election and the waves of the global financial crisis crashing into Canada’s economy may seem like separate developments, but they are actually deeply inter-related and will significantly shape the struggles of youth and students ahead.

Blocking the Conservatives

For several decades neo-liberal governments across Canada have committed a sustained attack of social blood-letting. This has occurred at a time of record corporate profits by Canadian transnational corporations – but at the same time a globally declining rate of profit. Although largely camouflaged until it is exposed by events like today, capitalism is gripped by a general, deep crisis.

Intensified exploitation through racism, privatization, and union-busting are just a few examples of the tactics capitalism employs to overcome its profound crisis. So too is aggression and war. (As advanced capitalist economies like Canada historically developed into monopoly capitalism, an economic basis for imperialism was also rapidly spawned).

For salvation, finance capital has increasingly expanded flows of international capital and speculation. Colossal amounts of debt – corporate, state and personal debt, including student debt, as well as speculative excesses and bubbles – have become essential to the functioning of capitalism.

Neo-liberal “financialization” and the current panic that was sparked by the credit crunch is an expression of the structural crisis of capitalism.

At the same time, youth have suffered greatly from neo-liberal cutbacks, deregulation, privatization, as well as the drive to war and environmental destruction.

Deindustrialization, and the racialized “growing gap” between rich and poor has hurt and alarmed Canadians. The policies that have brewed the financial crisis also created the environment for Harper’s Conservatives. The governments orchestrating these assaults are now widely unpopular. Neither of the two federal big business parties have recently won a majority.

Facing an economy rapidly killing hundreds of thousands of manufacturing and forestry jobs, scandal (and a potential November Obama victory) the Bush-style Harper Conservatives threw Canada into an October election. They claimed Parliament had reached a log-jam-style impasse, even though Parliament was not actually in session.

By gambling for a majority, the Conservatives strove to satisfy big business. Corporate power desires a majority government because it is least vulnerable to public pressure and therefore best positioned to implement their agenda.

Blocking a Conservative majority was the main achievement of the Canadian people in this election. Most Canadians, especially the working class concentrated in cities, and the people of Quebec, correctly concluded that a Conservative majority would be tremendously destructive. The financial crisis and collapse of the stock markets including the TSX sharpened this debate.

Youth vote

For the youth, the election could have been a critical arena of struggle to curb the vicious neo-liberal offensive. Most young people did not response by voting however. In fact, in an election with the lowest voter turn-out in Canadian history at less than sixty percent, fewer youth appear to have cast a ballot than ever before. Over a million youth in Canada didn't vote.

Many youth were effectively disenfranchised. Door-to-door voter enumeration is no longer done before elections (surveys suggest that not knowing where and how to vote is the main reason youth don't vote). New regulations on ID meant students living away from home, young workers who have recently moved, renters who don't pay utility bills, and youth without a drivers license or passport identification were cut out of this limited expression of democracy.

For example, CBC reported that two-thirds of Dalhousie students in Halifax were turned away from polling stations and could not vote, as were some people from oppressed Aboriginal communities in the north, like Nunavut.

Politically, however, the failure of the mainstream parties to put forward real alternatives (not the least addressing young people's concerns) was also recognized by the youth and students. But by not voting, the young people often unwittingly voted for the incumbent.

Had the youth voted en-masse, it would be unlikely that Harper's Conservatives would be returning to power with sixteen new seats while gaining less than a two percent increase in the popular vote.

Communist campaign

The Party most engaging the issues of youth and students in our opinion was the Communist Party, advocating a platform based on "peoples need not corporate greed" and "Peace, Jobs, Democracy, and Sovereignty," to dump Harper, stop the Right, and elect a large progressive block of MPs.

Six of the Communist Party's twenty four candidates were youth and students. Four were leading members of the YCL. YCLers helped as activists, coordinators and assistant campaign managers, fighting for the Communists to be seen, heard and read.

University and college students were interested in the Communist platform and demands such as eliminating tuition fees, a $15 minimum wage, and cutting the military budget by half. In many campuses, student newspapers reported on the Communist campaign. In high schools, the Communist candidates won an average of five percent in Student Vote, despite many schools not presenting Communist Party literature. Where they had the opportunity to speak to students, Communist candidates often won over a hundred votes, rivaling other parties.

Youth issues

Election debates included many "youth issues" – youth crime, the arts, and climate change. The Conservative's racist proposals against "young thugs" (which would increase the already disproportionate numbers of youth of colour and aboriginal youth in jail) drew public anger. The roots of this issue – such as underfunding of education and public services, unemployment, and racism – was avoided by the opposition, however.

Harper's criticisms of the arts also exposed their anti-people agenda. However, funding for physical culture, especially women's sports, as well as support for emerging young artists was absent from the discourse of all big parties. Likewise, only market-based solutions were presented on global warming.

While the NDP put forward generally progressive but tepid policies, the scope of the discussion by all the big parties was narrow. On many issues important for young people, the corporate media's silence was not broken. The exception was in Quebec, where a Harper Conservative majority was blocked. Youth hit the streets and hounded Harper. They were joined by unions and people's movements, especially artists, women's groups, peace forces, and aboriginal people.


In English Canada, the Canadian Labour Congress noticeably did not endorse the NDP. Nor did Labour put forward an independent united voice. Many unions campaigned for the NDP or, in Quebec, the Bloc.

Despite laws frustrating union participation, individual unions like CUPE and the CAW launched their own campaigns. The CAW effectively attacked the Conservatives, but largely advocated voting for the Liberals, Canada's second main big-business party.

Most union youth in unions were drafted into the front-lines of specific NDP campaigns, or simply sat the election out, as business as usual. In BC, for example, the $10 Now minimum wage campaign was dropped until after the election. The missed opportunity was to force forward an agenda for young workers and their class – like raising the minimum wage, stopping two-tier contracts, organizing young workers, pay equity, workplace safety, affordable housing, childcare, and the million jobs lost from NAFTA.


On the eve of the federal election, opinion polls showed the strongest ever public opposition to the war in Afghanistan. Later, a government study revealed the war had a $1,500 price tag for every Canadian family. This also scandalized the Canadian people, not least the youth.

Cunningly, the Conservatives announced the withdrawal of Canadian troops in 2010. While peace forces denounced this as too little too late, and an unlikely promise to keep, the major parties largely ignored debate on the war, as well as youth questions on peace such as military research and recruitment.

The Canadian Peace Alliance (CPA) mobilized for an important post-election rally under the slogan, "Vote for Peace, then March for Peace." Deepening Canadian's anti-war sentiments is a major challenge as the CPA heads into its convention in December. The post-election re-establishment of the Canadian Peace Congress, as an anti-imperialist force within the broader movement is also a positive sign.


The Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) ran a "Vote Education" campaign with a website and report-card on the political parity’s positions. Most of their fire was aimed at the Conservatives, all but endorsing the NDP. (The Canadian Alliance of Student Associations, CASA, publicly endorsed the Liberals). For the first time, the CFS graded the Green Party, but it remarkably gave them almost as poor a grade as the Conservatives. Despite the Green's pro-market emphasis on many questions, it seems difficult to justify this criticism, especially given the Green’s laudable demand to abolish half of all student debt.

All the small parties, including the Communist Party which had the closest policies of any party to those of the students, were censured from the site, receiving not even a web-link reference. Attempting to put blinders on students, when they will nevertheless see these choices on their ballots, is anti-democratic. Excluding radical and alternative perspectives is more typical of corporate associations than people's movements; in fact including the Communists would strengthen the student's cause.

What's ahead

The immediate period ahead will likely be characterized by two features in the people's struggle.

First, the main opposition parties will be immobilized with the Liberals entering into a protracted leadership race and the other opposition parties fearing being labeled for provoking another election.

Secondly, the financial crisis will continue to dominate political discourse and the reality facing our class. The Harper Conservatives are likely to drive through a sharp neo-liberal reform package dropping the burden of the financial crisis incubated by the capitalists squarely on the backs of the people. Monopoly is moving to wipe-out more small businesses and attack its main enemy, the organized working class. Harper has a stronger minority and will continue to govern as if they have a majority.

Should we celebrate that there is a global capitalist crisis? No, we should never celebrate people's suffering. Crisis is also a feature of capitalism. If there is an accompanied sustained working class offensive against the system, and progressive forces world-wide are able to grasp the moment and force through major change – that would be cause to celebrate.

The foremost need is for the labour and peoples movements in Canada to advance a bold "people's alternative agenda," trying to shield and block as much as possible from this renewed attack. The time is right for a pan-Canadian meeting of all labour and progressive forces, like the Canadian labour movement initiated during the 1980s.

For the youth movement, in our view, such an alternative direction might draw from the Youth Charter that the broad and powerful Canadian Youth Congress proposed, following the On To Ottawa Trek of the Great Depression.

This is no dusty idea. American youth and students are currently mobilizing around a "youth agenda" platform, as have youth students in Europe, and also in Africa. Whatever the case, in the end this resistance has to be shaped by today's conditions and the requirements for social advance for the all exploited people and oppressed nations
of Canada.

This is not the same as replacing the Conservatives with the Liberals, in short. It will require dynamic, broad, and visible opposition in the streets in the coming months. It is likely the Tories will move on a budget bill before the budget in the spring. Time is of the essence.

The YCL-LJC's role

We too must get active. We must help where we can in building that opposition, starting from the cardinal points of unity and militancy and centering on our key areas of struggle – peace, jobs, and education. The following points draw from the YCL-LJC's summer 2008 Central Committee meeting:

1. Harper is likely to break his 2011 promise for Afghanistan withdrawal despite sharpening public criticism. Still, as we noted in the fall Central Committee, across the country the peace and anti-war forces often have too narrow a support-base, including on campuses while visible opposition to military recruitment also urgently needs to grow. Many others share this analysis. The addition of the CFS to the Canadian Peace Alliance and the upcoming student conference against War and Racism in Toronto are very positive.

2. Largely spontaneous student demonstrations demanding Omar Khadr's return across the country reflects the willingness of youth to mobilize around solidarity issues, as does the growing movement against the 2010 BC Olympics. The Native Youth Movement speaking tour has also already led to many Cross-Canada actions slowing or blocking the Olympics promotional "Spirit" train.

3. Young trade unionists have just seen some of the most militant declarations in recent years come forward from the Canadian Labour Congress in response to the financial crisis. Working people's first reaction to the crisis is likely to just try to survive, to look after families. But we can't ride out this storm. It is necessary to fight. Even in the darkest hours we can win. The labour movement needs youth willing to fight for a militant agenda in their unions, to put good resolutions into motion, and to build a militant, people-first response to the financial crisis. Weak, reformist leaders, combined with strong attacks by the class enemy, have threatened the labour movement’s very existence. Young workers are desperately needed precisely now to revitalize and help turn the tide.

4. Labour's position in this struggle is special, and the connections young workers can build with community and students activists has great potential. Poverty, minimum wage issues, and the manufacturing jobs crisis are all very weak points for Harper's Conservatives.

5. Whatever the outcome of the elections to the National Assembly in Quebec, there is urgent need for the Federations, ASSE, and the independent student unions to come together around a common platform of action. The financial crisis is all the more reason to shift spending towards social programmes, like education.

6. But what about in English Canada? CASA has, in the past, advocated for moderate tuition increases (!) but recent statements may suggest a shift. Are there any temporary openings here for limited, joint action with the CFS? It is also likely that many in the CFS will view this crisis as a potential opening to raid campuses from CASA. The Drop Fees campaign also urgently needs to deepen, strengthen and expand beyond Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan and into BC, Alberta and the East Coast.

7. High schools also have underestimated militant potential, especially for mobilizing working class youth. Organic networks of student activists, working with progressive teachers and teacher's unions, informal meetings of high school activists, and city-wide conferences organized by progressive youth organizations all have potential to build resistance.

The Young Communist League also has a role to play not just in sharpening the critique against the policies of Harper but also in sharpening our critique of capitalism itself. A life with a future is a modest and just demand. We need to condemn the financial crisis and expose the deep failures of capitalism to even maintain living-standards and provide any sustainable direction for the future of the Canadian peoples and our environment.

Our best tools to engage in this battle of ideas are Rebel Youth Magazine, and Jeunnesse Militante. They need to be read by more youth today. They engage youth struggles from a creative, Marxist perspective -- saying something different and important. Capitalism will not suddenly implode. A sustained courageous struggle against the capitalist class is necessary for the working people and their allies to win a socialist Canada, based on solidarity, equality and emancipation. That is our long-term goal.

It’s time to fight. It’s time to change. It’s time for a stronger YCL-LJC, and a stronger fightback!

The Youth are the Future! The Future is Socialism!

November 13, 2008


People's Voice Editorial, Nov. 16-30, 2008

The initial responses of the labour movement to the deepening economic
and financial crisis are to be welcomed. In recent weeks, the Canadian
Labour Congress has forcefully condemned the "age of deregulated
neo-liberal global capitalism," and called for measures to discourage
financial speculation, restrict capital flight, increase government
revenues, create jobs, and invest in social programs.

Heading into the BC Federation of Labour convention this month,
the Vancouver and District Labour Council called for more education of
workers and the public on the crisis, and to "fight any attempt to put
the burden of this crisis onto workers' shoulders."

A combination of these and other approaches is urgently necessary
to raise the struggle for more advanced reforms: a shorter work week,
public ownership of the banks and the energy sector, withdrawal from
NAFTA, a $15 minimum wage, an end to Canada's part in the dirty
imperialist war in Afghanistan.

Just as important, the labour movement must swing into action. We
urge the CLC to take the lead in convening an emergency peoples'
conference, bringing together Aboriginal peoples, women, students,
seniors, immigrants, social justice movements and all other democratic
forces to debate our united response to the crisis and to fight the
Harper government's neo-con agenda. Such a powerful gathering would
have the political and organizational strength to mobilize millions
for people's needs, against corporate greed. As the old advertising
jingle asked: why wait for spring? Do it now!


PV November 16-30, 2008

Students across Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan sent a loud message
against sky-rocketing tuition fees on November 5, taking to the
streets in thousands.

"Although most Canadians voted against the Harper Conservatives,
especially among youth and students, the new government is poised to
strike hard at social programmes like post-secondary education, using
the capitalist economic crisis as a pretext," the Young Communist
League warned in a statement, demanding complete elimination of
tuition fees and student debt, and a living stipend for students.
"Now's the time to say `education is a right, not a privilege.'"

"Since [the McGuinty Liberals] took office, tuition fees in
Ontario have gone from fourth place to second highest in Canada," said
Shelley Melanson, Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of
Students-Ontario. "At a time when McGuinty is announcing an economic
downturn in Ontario, he is allowing tuition fee increases to outpace

In Manitoba, the Communist Party condemned Canada's only social
democratic NDP government for hiking tuition. "The hikes are even more
reprehensible because [Premier Gary] Doer broke his election campaign
promise to keep tuition frozen," they said. This strategy will keep
Manitoba "a low-wage racist backwater," where "Aboriginal peoples are
being shut out of higher education by tuition fees and racist policies
such as the two per cent federal cap on treaty First Nation education
funding and the non-recognition of the Métis as an Aboriginal people."

Recently, People's Voice spoke with Jen Hassum, past chairperson
of the Canadian Federation of Students (Ontario), who helped build the
November 5th rallies.

PV: Were the actions successful?

Hassum: Yes. The demonstrations had really high energy, and it was
great in Toronto, where we occupied an intersection [at College and
University streets] stopping traffic. Outside of Toronto there were
there were rallies in 13 cities - in Ottawa, Sudbury, Thunder Bay,

Mississauga, Orillia, London, Guelph, Sault Ste. Marie, Peterborough,
Hamilton, Scarborough, Kingston and Windsor. And it was done by
members and non-members of the Federation. London for example saw
support from the undergraduates at Western, as well as Fanshaw

PV: Why was there such a good turn-out?

Hassum: I think the turn-out reflects the pressures students are
feeling with tuition and ancillary fees rising. We collected tens of
thousands of signatures as well from campuses, an unprecedented
amount, and we had great organizers on the ground. We collected over
60,000 signatures. So it's no surprise to see high turnouts.

The Action Assembly [a weekend training meeting of over 400
student activists from across Ontario] helped build for the day of
action, creating a fighting movement that will continue, I think. We
are also now publishing a newspaper, Campus Action, which is produced
by a collective of students with some members of the CFS Ontario
executive and other students. We wanted to create a paper that offered
an alternative perspective, created for and by students, and I think
it is a good outreach tool.

PV: Why mobilize now?

Hassum: I think there are good reasons. It is really a good time to be
organized, tuition fees are increasing as part of the provincial
government's four-year plan called "reaching higher" - and because the
government is drafting a new framework, which opens the door to
proposals for real alternatives to increases, including dropping fees.
PV: I heard the International Union of Students issued a statement in support.

Hassum: Yes, it is actually better than that, we called the action and
there was also a province-wide day of action in Manitoba, and they had
an activist assembly also. I understand that from this call-out there
were student protests in London England, France, Germany, and the
Philippines - all took action to fight what the IUS called the
"corportization of education."

Here in Ontario, we are fighting fees, because we still have them
here! But tuition fees are really user fees for a public service. It
forces students and their families to finance education through
institutionalized private, personal debt. We see a retraction of
public funding to education, making it less accessible. So this is how
the system is becoming "corprotized here," it is privatization really,
from the ground up.

PV: What's next?

Hassum: This is a good question for students. Especially because our
first meeting of representatives with the ministry did not go as well
as we had hoped. We need to escalate and pressure the government,
creating forces no politicians can ignore.

November 06, 2008

Drop Fees Now!

Drop Fees Now!
For universal, quality, public accessible post-secondary education!
Statement of the YCL-LJC CEC, Nov. 5th 08

When students hit the streets on November 5th demanding "Drop Tuition
Fees," they will again receive 110% support from the Young Communist
League (YCL) and the Communist Party of Canada.

Tuition fees are soaring. Students face a heavier debt burden. This
debt load stops increasing numbers of working class youth from
obtaining post-secondary education. But it doesn't have to be this

Access to post-secondary education should be based on academic
qualifications, not the size of your wallet. Every person should have
the right to equal access to universal, quality, public post-secondary

Now is the time to mobilize and make the call 'education is a right,
not a privilege.' Although most Canadians voted against the Harper
Conservatives, especially among youth and students, the new government
is poised to strike hard at social programmes like post-secondary
education, using the capitalist economic crisis as a pretext.

Attack on students

The government has billions for the disastrous war in Afghanistan. But
our public education system, won through years of struggle by the
working class, faces unprecedented dangers. Access to education is
under attack:

· More mature students and women are on campus, but accessible campus
childcare spaces are stagnating and dwindling;

· The almost decade-old recommendations of the Royal Commission on
Aboriginal peoples regarding education are ignored. Colonial policies
continue to be orchestrated by the Canadian state and ruling class,
offering aboriginal youth a choice of poverty, racism, assimilation,
or suicide. Inadequate funding remains caped for treaty First

· International students have become cash-cows who can be disposed-of
at will. Saad Alam's recent deportation (a third-year U of T student
who worked with his family at minimum wage jobs and couldn't even
obtain a temporary permit to stay and finish his degree after their
study and work permits were withdrawn) shows the brazen disregard for
immigrant rights;

· Governments are continuing a two decade-long blitzkrieg of
mass-privatization of services and core programme funding. Cuts
continue to the Liberal Arts, Women's Studies, and Science research.
The result: more Dr. Nancy Oliveri's, whose courageous case exposed
the smear campaigns, reprisals, and academic censorship scholars face
when their research findings conflict with business sponsors. The
price of corporate funding is control over curriculum, orientation of
research, recruitment of talent, and free labour in trade and
technology schools;

· The drive to corporatize education has been coupled with other
direct attacks on academic free speech. Last semester, disturbing
heavy-handed police responses at UQAM, UBC, and UofT met with loud
protest, as did McMaster's failed attempt to ban the phrase "Israeli
apartheid." This has raised the need to democratize school
administration, including abolishing repressive student codes of

· Militarization of our campuses is growing, with the Canadian
military – and the Pentagon – funding research. Campus military
recruitment must be banned, and research devoted to peace and social
justice, not war and destruction.

The basic issue is who pays for education. Corporations depend on
trained workers to make profits. But big business doesn't want to pay
the bill, and drops the burden on the people. The goal is education,
US-style, for the rich only.
The way forward

Lobbying is not enough to win accessible education. What is needed is
unity of all students and progressive allies including in the labour
movement, like we are beginning to see with the Drop Fees campaign on
many campuses. We need to make our struggle visible, support
occupations, continue education with more teach-ins, more action, and
broad organizing committees on every campus.

Education is not a business venture. The Communist Party and the YCL
demand a 100% public post-secondary system for all, from cradle to

- eliminate tuition. Socialist Cuba does this, and capitalist Norway.
- clear all student debt, free books, affordable housing
- universal, accessible and affordable quality child-care system
- full-funding for aboriginal education;
- no differential fees for international students;
- protect the right to study by granting immunity from deportation to
students. Status for all.
- expand apprenticeships and guarantee the rights of youth to training;
- military off our campuses, troops out now!
- guarantee free speech on campus
- curb corporate power on campus, strengthen the integrity of research
with expanded public funding and protecting whistleblowers
- ultimately students should receive a living stipend

Make education a right, not a privilege!

On Nov. 5th – Drop Fees Now!