by Barry Weisleder
Socialists say “break with imperialist interventions”
While Canadian military fattens, NDP leaders fiddle
More surprising than the federal Conservative government’s $17.1 billion spending spree on transport planes, ships, helicopters and trucks for the military is the muted response of New Democratic Party Leader Jack Layton and his caucus of MPs.
On top of the $17.1 billion for equipment, the government will spend a further $6.9 billion on maintenance and support contracts, plus money for new recruits.
Steve Staples, a military analyst with the Ottawa-based Polaris Institute, says Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s plan will raise military spending within five years to $21.5 billion a year — by far the highest level of Canadian military spending since World War 2. Does anyone still believe that the military build up is about hunting al-Qaida?
The NDP leadership’s position
on this profligacy seems like an enigma, wrapped in a mystery. Or is it simply
a case of silent complicity?
As bourgeois budgets go, certain
choices always come at a high cost to social priorities. For example, the $3.2
billion price tag for heavy-lift planes (awarded to
The first recent whopping increase
to the Canadian military came in Paul Martin’s Liberal budget of June
2005. Jack Layton called it an “NDP budget” because he extracted
$4.6 billion in more money for housing, pollution clean-up, education and
foreign aid, along with a delay in corporate tax cuts. But
So, why should we expect even a murmur from the NDP caucus now?
Because the situation is getting worse, and working people, including 100,000 members of the labour-based party, and over 2 million NDP voters, find it increasingly unacceptable.
While casualties mount in
Instead of campaigning to bring the
troops home now, Jack Layton says, “This is the wrong military mission
The Canadian state was never a “peace-keeper”
— except in the morbid sense of delivering rebels to the eternal peace of
an early grave.
As the junior partner of
Faced with a deadlocked U.N.
While the performance of the Canadian state is today more overtly aggressive, reflecting the bravado of the Harper Conservatives and a shift in Bay Street’s priorities, it is not out of step with its legacy, nor with the interests of Canadian big business.
The Canadian Centre for Policy
Alternatives publication CCPA Monitor, in its June 2006 edition,
In the same edition of the CCPA
Monitor, Richard Sanders of the Coalition Against
the Arms Trade points out: “About 100 Canadian companies have been
identified as sellers and exporters of parts and services for major weapons
systems used by the
The benefits to the Canadian
corporate elite do not derive exclusively from direct military production, but
include the profits made by Canadian banks, mining firms and manufacturers in
countries dominated by the Empire which the Canadian state helps to sustain. For
example, Montréal-based Gildan Activewear,
the biggest producer of T-shirts in North America, operates notorious sweat
shops in low-wage
When the NDP in Parliament has addressed foreign policy, it was often Alexa McDonough, NDP International Affairs Critic, calling for more RCMP to go to Haiti, putting equal blame on Palestinians for the conflict with the garrison state that imprisons their people, and asking the Canadian military to “resume peacekeeping” in Afghanistan.
Based on reports from across the
country, delegates to the 22nd Federal Convention of the NDP, September 8–10 in
NDP socialists argue that the illusion of a possible “independent” capitalist foreign policy for Canada, and a “peace-keeping” role that never existed, serve only as cover for imperialist rule by more liberal means. Such a policy misleads New Democrats, and misrepresents the interests of working people at home and abroad.
The alternative to all that is anti-militarism and anti-imperialism. It is an alternative is driven by a vision of a cooperative commonwealth, a socialist democracy that puts people before profits, a perspective that is animated by internationalism, ecology and human solidarity.
And that is a vision truly worth fighting for.
Childcare lacking for those who need it most
According to a report released on July 5 by the City of Toronto, entitled “Learning from Each Other: Early Learning and Child Care Experiences in Canadian Cities”, there is a desperate need for more regional planning to ensure equal access to child care at a time when more than 70 per cent of mothers of young children work outside the home.
Even in Québec, where the provincial government has invested more than $1 billion into creating a universal system of low-cost child care, the neediest kids have the toughest time getting the service.
The report states, “As the Toronto and Vancouver stories show, even with a strong vision, a clear plan and a well-developed local infrastructure, inequalities will arise as long as there is insufficient funding to provide a place for all who want and need it.”
The study looks at local children’s
programs including child care, kindergarten and recreation in cities across the
country, using data gathered last fall from
Stephen Harper’s federal Conservative government seems to have plenty of money to beef up the military. But its plans to put the ax, next Spring, to last year’s federal-provincial child care funding agreements ensures that inadequate and uneven levels of child care service will only continue and worsen.
Global warming: We are running out of time
The world is on the brink of runaway global warming, with devastating consequences, which can be avoided only if massive cuts in carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane emissions are started immediately.
One of the world’s top climate scientists, James Hansen, head of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies, was one of the first to sound the alarm about global warming. Recently he defied efforts by White House appointees to NASA to force him to delete postings on his web site (www.columbia.edu/-jeh) that contradict positions taken by U.S. President George W. Bush.
Hansen’s message is a sharp
His central concern is the melting of polar ice caps, which is occurring far faster than predicted. To prevent a catastrophic rise in sea levels, increases in global temperatures must be no more than 1 degree Celsius.
Hansen points out that in the warmest periods during the past 400,000 years, temperatures were about 1°C warmer than now, and in a couple of cases seas were five metres higher. In addition, rapid increases in sea levels of 10 metres or more occurred many times in the past.
If today’s rate of increase were to continue, temperatures would be 2.8°C higher by the end of this century. The last time the Earth was that warm, 3 million years ago, seas rose 25 metres above previous levels.
If that were to happen now, Hansen
Not just that. Because global warming is behind the increasing frequency and intensity of storms, the destruction of coastal communities by storms worse than Hurricane Katrina in 2005 is likely.
To prevent temperatures rising beyond 1°C, Hansen says global emissions of CO2 must be capped within 10 years, and then cut a further 60 to 80 per cent by 2050.
He also insists that human-caused methane emissions, like those released in oil and gas operations, should be cut immediately by 30 per cent. Since methane is 21 times more potent as a greenhouse gas, limiting its emissions would be a fast start towards meeting his targets.
The greatest fear is that global warming will rise so high that permafrost will melt and release methane. This is what caused intense global warming 58 million years ago that resulted in mass extinctions, says Hansen. Temperatures were then about 5.5°C above today’s level.
Many of Hansen’s observations
are based on data from the U.S. National Ice Core Laboratory, where scientists
examined ice cores drilled in
That means never again will there be an ice age. Unless human become extinct, human-made greenhouse gases will offset cooling from orbital variations. Humans now control global climate. Unfortunately, only a tiny minority, a rapacious ruling class of humanity controls the global economic system which is wrecking havoc with the environment, and which threatens the future of humanity on this planet.
North America and the emerging Asian
The good news is that, according to
Hansen, and according to a report by
Unfortunately, the report does not suggest conscripting corporate profits, especially those of the gas and oil giants, for investment in developing and implementing green energy technologies. This matches the abject weakness of the proposals offered by Al Gore’s popular video documentary “An Inconvenient Truth”.
The old aphorism, “capitalism fouls things up”, is an outdated understatement. Today’s verdict must be: Capitalism is destroying the world. Only socialism, that is, public ownership of industry under workers’ democratic control, can possibly save it.