Conservatives target the unemployed with EI changes

Strict new changes to Canada’s Employment Insurance (EI) program took effect across the country on Jan. 6. The Conservatives’ plans to “reform” EI have been public knowledge since the Harper government tabled its last federal budget in March. Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development Diane Finley claimed the new changes merely clarify what is expected from EI claimants and help better connect job applicants to available work. In reality, they represent the latest attempt by the Canadian bourgeoisie to make workers pay for the ongoing capitalist crisis through austerity and a reduction of the social wage.

2012/13 Quebec budget: The PQ reveal their true colours

Last week the newly elected Parti Québécois government tabled their first budget since taking power. Finance minister Nicolas Marceau vowed to “balance the books” and “cut spending” in what is a clear austerity budget. Within an extremely short period since being elected, the PQ has now shown their true colours as a party subservient to Quebec big business, in line with the general austerity plan of the recently ousted Liberal Party. This marks a hard lesson for those students and workers who voted for the PQ in order to kick out the Liberals.

Rob Ford fired as Toronto mayor: Beat back the austerity agenda!

In a stunning and unprecedented move, a Toronto judge has removed Rob Ford from the office of mayor of Canada’s largest city, just two years after Ford swept into power on a campaign of “ending the gravy train”.  Aside from the embarrassment to Ford, the judge’s ruling is also a significant defeat for Bay Street who thought that in Ford, they had found their man to carry out historic cuts to city services.  Ford’s removal can serve as a spark to galvanize the labour movement to decisively beat back the bosses’ austerity agenda.

Is crisis coming to Canada? New economic figures warn of Europe-style collapse

Every day, new figures and stories come out describing Europe’s decay into virtual anarchy.  Once known for providing its workers with a relatively stable standard of living, one European country after another is pushed into crisis and austerity, provoking social explosions across the continent. The Canadian ruling class, on the other hand, has taken a certain satisfaction in asserting that this country is above the European fray.  Do these claims actually have any weight?  Or, does the Canadian economy have the same underlying weaknesses that have brought European capitalism to its knees? How close is Canada to a Europe-style meltdown?

Quebec election 2012: Jean Charest defeated, victory for the students!

For seven long months, Quebec students waged a valiant battle on the streets against the Liberal government’s tuition hikes and undemocratic laws. Former premier Jean Charest called the election as a referendum on who runs society — was it the students and the “street”, or was it the government and the so-called “silent majority”? The results of this election show a complete rejection of the Liberal agenda and in many ways, represents a real victory for the student movement.

Quebec 2012: Elections in a period of crisis

The usual circus of Quebec provincial elections is shaped by an important difference this time around.  In the context of the seven-month-old student movement, this election raises the possibility of sending a sharp message to Jean Charest's Liberal government -- that workers and students will not tolerate the Quebec bosses' austerity agenda.  Although the election alone will not radically change the situation of the Quebec working class, it is also wrong to ignore, or abstain from, the election.  What should the message in the election be?  What should workers and youth expect from the election?

Ontario Liberal government targets teachers: Defend teachers’ right to strike!

As this article goes to print, Ontario teachers are preparing to battle it out with Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals, in the provincial government’s first major confrontation with labour since the “banker’s budget” in April.  Although the Ontario teachers’ unions supported McGuinty’s Liberals in the last three elections, Dalton has rewarded the teachers by stabbing them in the back — outlawing teachers’ strikes and taking away their rights to collective bargaining by imposing a two-year wage freeze.  If this is what the Liberals have in store for their former friends, we can only imagine what they plan for the rest of the province’s workers.

The lessons of the Quebec student strike: Where now for the student movement?

As this article is being written, defeated strike votes from Quebec’s universities and colleges are rolling in. The push to block the start of classes, imposed by the Liberal government, appears to be failing. Most of the strike votes have failed with a large majority voting to return to class. The movement is faltering as students are grudgingly voting to end the strike. However, while grim, all is not yet lost. This is a decisive turning point for the movement and it is vital that we learn the lessons going forward.

$30-billion fighter jet scandal shows real priorities of Conservative austerity government

Before Parliament was dismissed for the summer, the federal Conservative government was being rocked by the scandal surrounding the government’s purchase of the infamous F-35 fighter jets.  At the same time as the federal Tories are crying poor and demanding historic cuts from workers across Canada, the government is trying to hide the fact that they they fabricated the original public costs of the jets, and are prepared to pay nearly $30-billion for the fighter planes.  The F-35 scandal not only reveals the incompetence of the Conservatives, but what the genuine priorities are for the ruling class.

Record profits for the banks; Austerity for the rest of us

In the fall of 2008, as the financial crisis was just starting to impact the United States, the Harper government was lauding Canadian banks as the “soundest in the world.” This was to become a well-rehearsed and well-worn talking point for government and corporate mouthpieces throughout the duration of the 2008-10 recession. However, a recent study released by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) reveals a staunchly different picture. Massive government bailouts were dolled out to the country's largest banks to the tune of $114-billion of public money being pumped into the financial institutions.