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Food for Thought From Canada

By World Socialist Party US January 1, 2023 No Comments 8 Min Read

From the Monthly Report of the Socialist Party of Canada, January 2023

There is now a robot that can pick fruit. The camera tells the computer where the fruit is and it guides the arm away from leaves twigs and branches, picks it and deposits it in a bin. Another invention which would be great in a Socialist society but will cause unemployment under capitalism. There is no end to the inventiveness of capitalism though it would be great to end the system period. 

From January till October, Ontario’s Landlord and Tenant Board received 1,269 owner-use eviction filings and is set to beat the previous record, set in 2019 when 1,274 were received. Landlords are saying they want the homes for family members, which is bullshit. They want them in order to jack up the rent for a new tenant. In October the average Toronto two-bedroom home rented for $3,358 monthly and a one-bedroom home for $2,502. While tenants in rent-controlled units have a cap on rent hikes, Ontario’s housing laws allow unlimited increases between tenancies. Under crapitalism there’s always a catch. 

Stats-Canada recently analyzed the profits of 52 business sectors and found that a third of them were responsible for driving profits way-up-high. The oil and gas sector were the top with a $38 billion increase on profits, or more than 1,000% since 2019. Others included mining, which saw profits raise by 700%, banking, real estate, building products, car dealerships, grocery stores and food manufacturing. Stats Canada’s report said that large price increases on products or produced by those sectors accounts for more than half of the inflation in Canada in the past year. So the capitalists get richer and the working class get poorer. So what’s new? 

The premiers of Canada’s provinces are demanding more funding from the federal
government to prevent the health care system from collapsing. On December 9, they said they want a face-to-face meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the new year.
Federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos declined to say if Trudeau would agree to a
meeting. The premiers say they collectively pay 78% of health costs and the feds pay 22%, which they want increased to 35%. To quote Doug Ford:

When you see backlogged surgeries right across this province, when you see an increase in pediatric care at the hospitals and long term care, mental health and addiction — everyone’s struggling.

As the brutal Toronto winter gets underway, more homeless people will be without a bed for the night. Many are not trying to find one. First they have to phone the central intake line, answer a lot of questions, and if there is a bed available, which is one in twenty calls, then travel to the place, which may be hard if the person hasn’t money for a transit fare. Some don’t even have money for the initial phone call. In December the city said it would add 230 beds, with 100 new hotel rooms for refugees and 132 spaces for single people. Advocates for the homeless say that it’s not enough, that the city’s plans for last winter fell short. Many are forced to panhandle for the price of a coffee in McDonald’s or Tim Hortons and spend the night there. One sure thing about capitalism is that compassion doesn’t exist. 

For once everyone has to agree with the guy. Something has to be done quickly and effectively to prevent the health care system from imploding. Nevertheless, it would still be a reform to deal with another fine mess created by capitalism – a mess that would not arise in a socialist society.

For more than 50 years Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program has supplied Canadian capitalists with migrant workers who can be paid less than Canadian workers while often working longer hours with fewer benefits. Now, because of the labor shortage the number of migrant workers has increased to a record of nearly one million. The federal government has introduced new rules so bosses can now hire up to 20% of their workforce through the low-wage part of the program, which pays workers as little as $15 an hour. This practice dates back to the 1880s, when Chinese workers were hired to build the railroad.  

The world is shocked at the killings, in a condo north of Toronto by a demented man with a history of mental illness. Two days later, in downtown Toronto, 8 girls between 13 and 16 murder a resident of a homeless shelter. Nobody can condone such actions, but what one can do is understand how an economic system that by its very nature alienates people from one another can eventually lead to such atrocities. Another good reason to abolish this dog-eat-dog apology for a system. 

Ten thousand dollars! That’s what police say kids, some as young as 14, are getting for carjacking. Hard to believe, but they’re talking about luxury cars, some of which sell for $150,000, so it might be true. 2022 has seen a staggering rise in carjackings in Canada’s major cities. Sometimes a carjacker will cause a minor collision, get out and shove a gun in the face of the other driver. Another trick is to put a newspaper on the windshield of a parked car, wait for the driver to return, and while he/she is removing it threaten him/her with a gun. The young lads who steal the cars then hand them to adult criminals who strip them of any identifiers and ship them overseas. When one thinks of the ten grand, one can understand why someone living in poverty would do it. As long as poverty exists there will always be crime — and as long as capitalism exists there will always be poverty.

On November 21, Stats Canada announced that Canada’s annual rate of inflation fell slightly in November but food prices continued to soar. A survey conducted by Dalhousie University found that 75% of Canadian’s have changed how they buy food in order to cope. In 2023 food prices will continue to rise, with families having to spend an extra $1,000 a year or more on groceries. All over Canada food banks report record-breaking numbers of visits. Nobody interviewed said they were skimping on rent, which is also going up. Instead they are cutting back on their food bills. Some are actually going to work in restaurants because they can take leftovers home. One young guy said he works at Starbucks because they have a 30% discount for their workers on eggs and pastries. Not a pretty picture, but of one thing you can be sure – the capitalists have no food problems. 

At the United Nations Nature Summit in Montreal on December 16, Canada’s environment minister Steven Guilbeault and foreign affairs minister Melanie Joly pledged that Canada would pay another $225 million in new funding for nature conservation in developing countries. This is on top of the $350 million Trudeau pledged earlier in the summit. Canada is among the 116 countries to have committed to a deal to protect 30% of the planet by 2030. Some of the poor countries demanded that the richer ones pay more, leading the Brazilian delegation to walk out in the early stages of the talks. Talk may be all it is. Every government is the executive committee of its respective capitalist class and will try to protect their interests. When it fails to do so, the local capitalists will soon get rid of it. So it will be interesting to see what, if anything, comes of this. 

The Ontario government has caused one heck of a mess by granting mining claims on land supposedly owned by the Grassy Narrows First Nation tribe. It is here where they live, hunt, and fish. According to former tribal chief Randy Fobister,”this is in direct violation of our indigenous laws.” He was referring to the Indigenous Protection and Conservation Act, which in theory regulates land management and conservation efforts, including determination of land boundaries and management plans. This sounds all well and good. However, now that gold has been found on their land the Act is just a piece of paper to the capitalist class.

Polar bears are dying out. Churchill, Manitoba, on the shore of the Arctic Ocean, sometimes called the Polar Bear Capital of the World, has an annual polar bear migration. In 2016 there were 842 bears, in 2022 just 618. Global warming has caused the ice floes they live on to melt. Bears swim in search of another, get exhausted, and drown. This applies especially to adult males. The female stays behind to tend to the cubs while the male hunts to feed the family and in some cases doesn’t return. Researchers say the death rate among females and young bears is alarming. They also say Polar Bears are the best known face of climate change. One hears a lot of talk about endangered species. With the way things are going, the human race is also an endangered species.

One of the most common arguments in defense of capitalism is the old bullshit that if you have what it takes you can rise from poverty to prosperity. As though that can justify a system that is destroying the planet! Well, let’s take a look at recent events concerning three guys who “made it.” First there’s Donald Trump. Need I say more? Then there’s Elon Musk, the guy whose car and battery company was going to solve global warming. He paid $44 billion for a company worth a lot less, made it worth even less, and has decreased the value of his other companies. Let’s not forget Sam Bankman-Fried, whose wealth, gained before the age of 30, was said to be the result of genius. Now it turns out that he was running a Ponzi scheme. One can also factor in those who made a fortune and lost it — some overnight, like in 1929. Whether one is clever in business or not, honest or not, under capitalism there is no security. 

On one thing we can all agree: 2022 was a terrible year. The Toronto Star called it “a year of constant crisis.” You, dear reader, don’t need me to list all the horrible things that have happened in it. There is no reason to suppose that 2023 will be any better. If any upholders of capitalism read this, I ask them to study the case for Socialism, because it’s the only answer to the many problems that are destroying the planet and if left unsolved will inevitably destroy the human race. 

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