The Central Executive of the Communist Party of Canada released the following statement this morning (September 30, 2008 ) in response to the deepening economic crisis.
Stephen Harper’s claim that the Canadian economy is on "a solid footing" looks utterly foolish after the staggering fall in stock prices on Monday, Sept. 29. In reality, Canada is on the brink of a "Dirty Thirties" depression, thanks largely to the neo-conservative policies pushed by Harper, Bush, and other advocates of ‘unfettered capitalism.’
The Communist Party of Canada warns that instead of more self-congratulating Tory speeches, the country needs emergency measures to protect working people from the pending economic disaster spreading from our largest trading partner, the United States.
Consider some harsh facts. Exports of goods and services, consumer spending, residential housing construction, and investments in plant and equipment are all declining. The loss of almost 400,000 manufacturing jobs in recent years has left working people struggling to stay afloat, compelled to take low-wage, part-time service sector employment to pay the bills. No wonder that Canadian households now carry $1.25 in debt for every dollar of disposable income.
Meanwhile, corporate profits shot up another 8.3% in the second quarter of this year. Most of this profiteering is the result of higher energy prices – in other words, corporate gouging for gas and for home heating fuel. This feeds the spiral of declining disposable incomes for working families.
The emerging crisis has been worsened by deregulation, privatization, brutal cuts to the social safety net, and huge tax breaks for the rich and the corporations. In Canada and other capitalist countries, the needs of the people have been ruthlessly sacrificed as right-wing governments help big business rack up ever larger profits. By removing any meaningful restrictions on the predatory business practices of big capital, these policies sucked untold billions from the pockets of working people and into the bank accounts of the rich.
Now the chickens have come home to roost, and the list of victims of this economic binge grows longer every week: Bear Stearns, "Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae", Lehman Brothers, the American International Group, Merrill Lynch, Wachovia. Losses are mounting into the trillions of dollars, and the "bailout" just voted down in Washington would put the burden squarely on the backs of working people, guaranteeing an even deeper crisis in the very near future. Now there are ominous warnings that "a hurricane of bad credit card debt will start crashing ashore in the United States." In other words, the worst is yet to come.
Politicians who claim that Canada is ‘insulated’ from this catastrophe are lying. And those who want to shovel more truckloads of taxpayers’ dollars into the coffers of the corporations are simply pushing the same policies which helped generate this crisis in the first place.
The capitalist economic debacle presents grave dangers, but also an opportunity to debate fundamental changes in Canadian society. This is a time to say "NO" to corporate greed, and "YES" to Canadian sovereignty and independence, "YES" to the needs of the Canadian people.
The Communist Party of Canada calls for an immediate action plan to protect the Canadian economy and Canadian jobs, pensions, social programs and living standards.
This action plan must include:
- Canada’s immediate withdrawal from NAFTA, a halt to the "Security and Prosperity Partnership" (SPP) negotiations, and the adoption of a much more diversified, multilateral trade policy based on mutual benefit;
- The nationalization of the energy industry to guarantee domestic supply and to provide the material basis for the economic rebuilding of Canadian industry and the creation of hundreds of thousands of jobs;
- Protections for Canadian working people through the immediate introduction of plant closure legislation to stop the exodus of manufacturing jobs, legislation to protect workers’ wages and pensions, and the expansion of EI to cover all workers for the full duration of unemployment;
- An immediate increase in the minimum wage to $15/hr. to help raise all wage levels and stimulate domestic consumption;
- Sweeping progressive tax reform based on ability to pay, and the revocation of all corporate tax breaks, hand-outs, write-offs and deferrals at every level – measures that will shift the tax burden from working people onto the corporations and the wealthy;
- Emergency measures to protect and extend our public healthcare, education and other social programs, including the establishment of a universal system of quality public child care;
- A massive public investment program to construct affordable social housing, to rebuild Canada’s decaying infrastructure, in environmental protection and conservation, and in job creation programs for youth;
- Canada’s immediate withdrawal from the disastrous war of occupation in Afghanistan, and a 50% cut in military spending.
Defeating the Harper Tories and blocking the right on October 14 is the first essential step to ensure that it is the big corporations, and not working people, who will bear the costs of this crisis.
Canada needs a new government and new policies that put people’s needs before corporate greed. By electing MPs, including Communists, who are committed to the kind of policies outlined here, Canadians can dramatically alter the balance of forces inside Parliament, and improve the terrain of battle for the extra-parliamentary struggles resuming October 15th.