A new monthly feature contributed by our comrades north of the border.
A general election was held in the province of Ontario on June 2. Four main parties participated: the Progressive Conservatives (PCs), the Liberals, the New Democratic Party (NDP) and the Greens. The PCs won again.
A single person in Ontario with a disability and no children is able to collect a yearly income of $15,731, according to the latest report by the Maytree Foundation, which studies welfare rates across Canada. This is $9,000 below Canada’s official poverty line, at which household disposable income is 75% of the Market Basket Measure. Chris Glover, Ontario legislator for the NDP, hit the nail on the head when he said: ”It’s not poverty, it’s destitution.” The NDP, the Greens and the Liberals all said they would increase Ontario Disability Support Program benefits if elected. The Progressive Conservatives did not promise an increase in benefits. But whoever had won and whatever increases are or are not made, life will still be hard for the working class, disabled or not.
The world bee population is dying out; between April 2020 and April 2021, 45.5% of bees died in the US. Its normal to lose 5-10% during a winter as fewer eggs are laid. In a particularly bad winter you could lose up to 15-25%, but above 25% you’ve got problems. One third of the food we eat is pollinated by bees. There are companies that rent bees out to farmers who need them, but even they are running low on them. The reasons for the decline in bee population are pesticides, habitat destruction, drought, air pollution and global warming; in other words, the effects of capitalism.
Cost of Living
Most workers in Canada are struggling thanks to the rising cost of food, gas and other consumer goods. Average prices rose by 6.7% last month, while average wages fell by 1.6%. The Canadian economy has experienced high inflation before – in the 1970’s and 1980’s, for example. But in those days many unions had Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) in their contracts. By 1980 half of all union members had a COLA clause in their contracts. Over the last 40 years the capitalist class has battled against workers’ rights, state support programs and trade union freedoms. For most unions, struggling just to survive, COLA seemed the least of their problems. By 2014 the proportion of union members protected by COLA had fallen to 1%. Now, in their absence, unions throughout Canada are fighting for significant wage hikes, even striking, to force capitalists to raise wages above inflation. Under capitalism it never gets easier for the working class.
The Toronto Star recently initiated an investigation into food banks in Toronto and found that many of them are running out of supplies. Their article of April 29 showed that the Fort York Food Bank ran out after only being open for three hours and serving 95 people. Toronto’s high housing costs and the end of pandemic support programs have led to an increase in people relying on food banks. This has been exacerbated by the recent increase in prices for food and gas. In March 2019, 60,000 clients visited food banks across Canada. In March 2022, the corresponding figure was 160,000. That month 5,700 used a food bank for the first time. Many of them had a university education. So much for the idea that the more education you have the better off you’ll be. What a joke — we live under capitalism.
Over the last two years Victoria, the capital of British Columbia, has seen the proportion of its population that is homeless grow to twice that of Toronto and five times that of Vancouver. The provincial government has bought three hotels to shelter more than 300 people and found 430 more spaces for them at a cost of $130 million. The situation has been exacerbated by the fact that homeless deaths have increased due to the supply of toxic drugs. Fentanyl is now laced into more than 80% of street drugs. On every stage of the journey from cartel to user, sellers cut heroin and cocaine with fentanyl to make it cheaper and more profitable. So whether profits are made legally or not, they remain what they have always been — the death blood of capitalism.
On May 16, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business revealed that business bankruptcies in Canada in the first quarter of 2022 were up 34% on the first quarter of 2021 and returning to pre-pandemic levels. There were 807 bankruptcies this quarter. This is not an accurate figure because many businesses just close their doors without filing for bankruptcy. This is due to inflation, rising interest rates and the end of government subsidies they had during the pandemic. Yet still so many say: “If you’ve got what it takes, you will make a fortune!’. Try telling that to those bankrupt capitalists. As far as bankruptcy goes, the whole capitalist system is morally bankrupt.
The leaders of the four main parties contesting June’s Ontario election participated in a heated TV debate on May 16. Most of the talk was criticism of each other’s policies rather than presentation of what they would do if elected. PC Premier Doug Ford said that the other three parties wanted to bring back license plate stickers and raise the gas tax and taxes in general. He told the NDP’s Andrea Horwath that some private sector unions has given their support to the PC. Horwath proposed a tax freeze on folks making up to $200,000 a year. “Everybody should be able to afford everyday life,” she said. Liberal leader Steve Del Duca accused the PCs of planning to build a new highway just to make their donors wealthier. The Greens’ Mike Shreiner criticized all three of the other parties for not being concerned about the environment. In pugilistic terms he won on points.
To sum up, all four said in effect: ”I can do a better job of running capitalism than those other three jerks.” And that is why nobody should vote for any of them.
Charlie-boy and Camilla came to Canada in May for a three-day public-relations tour to deodorize the stink that has enveloped the royal family recently. The bad odor is due to resentment of Britain’s colonial past and the royals’ shameful present. A poll conducted in April showed that a mere 26% thought that the Queen should remain as Canada’s head of state. It’s encouraging to see that so many view the monarchy as irrelevant, but it would be even better if they thought the same about capitalism.
War in Ukraine
Those who thought that Russia would no longer be a threat to world peace have had a rude awakening. Under capitalism there is never worldwide peace – small wars are always being fought somewhere — but now we have one which could escalate into a major war. The capitalist classes of different countries have two fundamental needs that put them on to a collision course with one another — access to raw materials and access to markets, hence war. Once a war is being fought other factors come into play, such as protecting trade routes, capturing and protecting strategic positions, and profits for companies with government contracts, particularly arms manufacturers. The capitalist class in Russia wish to extend their sphere of influence and the Western capitalists view this as a threat. In Ukraine Putin and his fellow thieves want an outlet for their shipping on the Black Sea and the industrial area of eastern Ukraine.
The Socialist Party of Canada and its companion parties in other lands have always held that the world’s working class have no stake in any war. It doesn’t matter to a Ukrainian worker whether he/she is exploited by a Russian capitalist or a Ukrainian one. Exploitation is exploitation. Workers fight for their bosses because they are lied to. They are told to fight for freedom, democracy and so forth, although they really fight for the bosses’ profits. This is why we in the World Socialist Movement say: “This war does not justify the shedding of a single drop of working class blood.” In a socialist world there will be no wars.
Source: The Socialist Party of Canada. Secretary’s Report for June 2022