Necessity for a New Pro-Social Outlook and Direction for the Economy
Bombardier in Turmoil
Outlook and Direction for the Economy
Necessity for a New Pro-Social Outlook and Direction for the Economy
Bombardier in Turmoil
For the second time in two years, Bombardier has announced massive cuts to its workforce. In 2016, the global oligopoly fired 7,000 workers; this time another 5,000 workers will be dismissed: 2,500 workers in Quebec, another 500 in Ontario and 2,000 elsewhere with Belfast in the north of Ireland the most probable target.
Reductions in a workforce of thousands of workers mean that a substantial segment of Bombardier's economy will be liquidated. The company is entirely abandoning its commercial jet production despite receiving billions of dollars in state pay-the-rich subsidies.  Secret manoeuvrings and furious competition amongst sections of the global financial oligarchy in commercial jet production, in particular between Boeing and Airbus, have intensified the crisis at Bombardier.
In 2017, Boeing used the power of the U.S. state to block the sale in the United States of Bombardier's C-series mid-sized airliner. In full retreat, Bombardier gave 51 per cent of the C-series operation to Airbus for free. What will become of the remaining production facilities in Canada when fully in the hands of Airbus was not addressed in the Bombardier press release or subsequent statements.
Bombardier is also selling off its Q Series (previously known as the Dash 8) turboprop aircraft program, which means the only aircraft production remaining will be luxury private and business airplanes. It also announced the sale of its aircraft flight and technical training unit to CAE, another global monopoly, without any indication of the fate of those now working in the segment.
Aside from production of business jets, Bombardier will continue its airplane servicing agreements and the manufacturing of trains. However, the train sector as well is under serious threat from other global oligopolies and their powerful state representatives and the falling rate of profit arising from increased productivity from the use of advanced scientific technique and its automated production systems.
The situation reveals that the billions of dollars in recent Quebec and federal pay-the-rich handouts to Bombardier were not meant to maintain production of commercial airline passenger planes under the control of Bombardier and in Canada but to ensure the servicing of its $9 billion in debt held by the financial oligarchy. Owners of Bombardier debt annually expropriate close to $1 billion in interest profit from the company's various sectors. The proceeds from asset stripping will likewise benefit the big moneylenders.
Ontario and Quebec manufacturing has been under pressure and in decline for well over ten years. The consistent downsizing of Bombardier manufacturing along with the brazen lockout of 1,030 ABI aluminum workers in Becancour, Quebec and the broad U.S. state attacks on Canadian aluminium and steel production through tariffs have exposed a consistent pattern. The global oligarchs are sidelining Quebec and Ontario manufacturing and reducing Canada within the global imperialist economy to sources of raw material, services, various forms of financial parasitism, speculation and retailing in the largest metropolises, moneylending and subsequent interest payments for private and state debt.
The result is further concentration in fewer private hands of the social wealth and power of the socialized means of production and circulation in Canada and throughout the world. This regressive phenomenon is intensifying the contradiction between the socialized productive forces and their private control, causing nation-wrecking and destruction of what the oligarchs cannot control. This also results in more intense violent competition, wars and war preparations, greater economic crises and widespread social problems. The global financial oligarchy has deprived the people of power and reduced the social wealth at the disposal of the vast majority of people and their societies.
Bombardier's economic crisis and the insecurity it brings to thousands of workers, their communities and local economies highlight the necessity for a new direction for the economy. It is up to the working class to take up the responsibility of clarifying and bringing to life that new direction, and can do so through its it own organized efforts, actions with analysis and practical politics.
A new direction requires a new outlook that puts as the aim of the economy not the narrow private interests of the financial oligarchs but the needs and well-being of the people. The well-being of the people and Mother Earth can be realized when working people reorganize the socialized economy in conformity with its interconnected and scientific character and its actual and potential social product. The modern outlook demands the end of all forms of exploitation of humans by humans, the humanizing of the social and natural environment, the constant advancement of the general interests of society, and peaceful and cooperative arrangements for mutual benefit amongst the peoples of the world.
A pro-social outlook views the world as it presents itself and what is required to meet the expectations of the people and their desire for empowerment, peace, security and a future for themselves, their families, society and fellow humanity around the world. The challenge is to organize the advanced social consciousness and the very large numerical force of the working people into modern independent institutions and social forms of their own making and conscious control so as to deprive the global oligarchs of their power over the socialized economy and political life of the country.
1. In 2015, Bombardier received massive bailouts from public funds belonging to Quebeckers totalling $3.3 billion. It received $1.3 billion from the Quebec government for its C Series aircraft program, for which the government received a 49.5 per cent stake in a limited partnership that included program assets, liabilities and obligations. Later that year, the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, that manages several public and parapublic pension plans and a number of insurance programs in Quebec, sank $2 billion into Bombardier's rail transportation division. In 2017, the federal government gave Bombardier a $375-million "repayable loan."
A scandal arose in 2017 about the salaries of Bombardier's executives, which increased by nearly 50 per cent while the company laid off thousands of workers and received these massive public subsidies. During the same time, the stock options of Bombardier executives brought in profits of $78 million in that year alone, according to figures provided by Michel Girard in the Journal de Montréal .
2. For further information on Bombardier see "Bombardier's Attempt to
Airline Market: Boeing Aerospace Monopoly Uses U.S. State to Crush Its
Competitor," Workers' Forum, October 5, 2017
All Out for November 28 Montreal Demonstration in Support of ABI Locked-Out Workers
On November 28, USW Local 9700, representing the 1,030 workers at the ABI aluminum smelter in Bécancour, locked out since January 11, is calling on everyone to take part in a demonstration in front of Hydro-Québec's offices in Montreal. The demonstration begins at 11:30 am and the locked-out workers will rally at the Alcoa headquarters at Place Ville-Marie and proceed to the Hydro-Québec offices.
The demonstration has been called to oppose the assistance that is being provided by the Quebec government and Hydro-Québec to Alcoa in organizing the lockout by allowing the Alcoa/Rio Tinto cartel to renege on its payment obligations to Hydro-Québec. Alco/Rio Tinto and Hydro-Québec have agreed that the company's obligation to pay for the energy block that is reserved for it is not in effect, declaring the lockout a "force majeure". A "force majeure" is defined as unforeseeable circumstances that prevent the fulfillment of a contract, something over which the company has no control, like an earthquake. The workers rightly denounce the fact that the government and Hydro-Québec are funding the cartel's lockout on the backs of the people of Quebec, a lockout that has been going on for 10 months now with no end in sight.
"We invite all unions to come out and demonstrate with us," said Clément Masse, president of Local 9700, to Workers' Forum . "With this contract the government signed with the company, Quebeckers will lose about $200 million in revenue. It is not normal for Quebeckers to finance the company. The government is helping the company finance the labour dispute. That's what we're going to denounce on November 28, and that's why we're doing it in front of Hydro-Québec offices and we're calling on the other unions to come and support us. There are already some who have announced their participation and it is very encouraging. We'll see you on the 28th."
The workers represented by USW Local 9700 are fighting a very difficult struggle against a global power that controls much of the aluminum and alumina produced around the world. Oligarchs use their power over the productive forces and social wealth to force workers to submit to their dictate so they can secure greater private profit from the value produced by the workers. The workers reject this and continue, with the support of workers in Quebec, the rest of Canada, and several countries around the world, to demand that the company negotiate to arrive at an agreement that their members consider satisfactory.
On November 7, the Quebec Labour Minister announced the establishment of a mediation council to facilitate the resumption of negotiations. It is being reported that the government has given the parties until November 30 to reach an agreement, which could have been reached months ago if the owners had agreed to sit down with the union to negotiate instead of locking out the workers. Instead, the company has refused to even talk to the workers, has added new demands for concessions, and has filed lawsuits against the union on fraudulent charges of vandalism and sabotage of production.
In response to the announcement by the Minister of Labour, the local USW president said in a statement:
"From the beginning, we have always shown our openness to negotiating. We will take part in meetings we are invited to with good faith and seriousness. For the sake of labour relations in this plant, it is important that this conflict be settled with a negotiated agreement."
Workers Speak Out
Chantier politique is reproducing below an excerpt from a commentary by Jean-François Nadeau in the November 12th issue of Le Devoir, entitled "Violences."
"I'm very proud of what we've accomplished until now, and am very enthusiastic about our future," writes Bombardier president Alain Bellemare, who has a yearly salary, before bonuses, of $13 million. "With today's announcements, we are implementing the next measures required to achieve the Bombardier portfolio's real value."
As for Olivier Marcil, Bombardier's "vice president of external relations," he explains that this has to do with a "productivity initiative."
Can anyone fathom a world being force fed more hollow words than that? Thousands of workers turfed out, what's that all about, other than the newspeak adopted by this international employer?
The mass layoffs are spoken about in terms of a "slim down." It's so bad that it becomes obscene. And embarrassing. How many problems when it comes to mortgage payments, divorces, depressions, ongoing social problems will result from such action? How does one idle one's brain to the point of finding a way to feel proud about such a thing?
Today, on the basis of themes on personal growth so dear to gurus, workers are being told without let up that their success and happiness depends upon them alone. Smile, and you'll get better results at work! The times are calling for flexibility, so just adapt! In the face of hardship, learn how to do somersaults. Know how to reinvent yourselves. All that optimistic literature eludes the pattern of collective misfortune by reducing it to strictly an issue of personal willpower.
Living, eating, caring for one's family, one's friends, those close to us. Loving. Being loved. That's what the entire world wants. Has that been forgotten?
From all that they write, it's as if the almighty bosses have no responsibility towards the social conditions being imposed on the society? Their responsibilities, although profound and deadly, are forever being shirked off as a result of so-called market imperatives. They surreptitiously disappear behind forever-renewable screens.
Bombardier, the eternal welfare recipient, has gobbled up $1.3 billion in unsecured public funds, to then have its bosses provide themselves princely wages, while the Airbus company flies off with the fruits of that money. The Caisse de dépôt and the government sent $3.3 billion of Quebeckers' money Bombardier's way. Nonetheless, the company's worth continues to melt away like snow in the sun, while this year Bombardier's leaders personally share profits of around $78 million, based on the figures of Michel Girard at the Journal de Montréal.
The outcome of all this wasted money is clear, striking. No one has been fooled. However those responsible for the mess are not throwing in the towel. They are even demanding that the new Premier, Mr. François Legault, continue to act in this lousy play.
One should take the time to listen to past CAQ president and former QLP minister Dominique Anglade, who in an interview continues to claim, without remorse, that it has and will always be up to the government to demonstrate unfaltering support to a company such as Bombardier, even though it has been assisted and bottle fed like no other.
"It's up to the government to sit down with the company, sit down with the sector and find solutions. We [when we were in government], we found solutions," says Dominique Anglade. Yet it is easy to show, through a simple recounting of events, how that operation was carried out and how the results, less than a year later, differ from what, in their opinion, the recovery would be.
In the face of this social and economic disaster, the social hypocrisy of the ruling classes remains distressing. Of course the assumed mediocrity of their personal ambition is of no assistance. These people adore themselves to such an extent that they forget about the real world, whose clocks they set.
The discredit of those politically responsible in this affair is fed by their evident incapacity to propose any perspective whatsoever to emerge from their model of the only law the multinationals now recognize: anything permitted is the order of the day.
(Translated from the original French by Chantier politique)
Training in the Construction Industry
In 1974, he became a member of the Parti Québécois' National Executive. Following his election as a Member of the National Assembly for Fabre, he joined the Executive Council on November 26, 1976, and became Minister of State for Economic Development in René Lévesque's cabinet in 1977, a position he held until September 9, 1982. He then became Deputy Minister for Foreign Trade, Minister of Foreign Trade and Minister of International Relations in the Levesque and Pierre-Marc Johnson cabinets.
In 1988, during the federal election, he actively campaigned for the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement. All his life, he would remain an ardent promoter of so-called free trade agreements. He saw them as an opportunity for Quebec to modernize its economy and gain access to the U.S. and North American market, and favourable to Quebec's sovereignty, as if Quebec would enter the concert of nations through such treaties. Within the global context of neo-liberalism, Bernard Landry remained aloof from the issue of developing an economy that meets its needs and engages in exchange with others on the basis of mutual development and benefit, an economy in which decision-making belongs to the sovereign people, not supranational arrangements dominated by large private monopolies and oligopolies.
From 1989, Bernard Landry was Vice-President of Parizeau's Parti Québécois until 1994. He was elected in Verchères in 1994, 1998 and 2003. Under the government of Jacques Parizeau, he was Deputy Premier and Minister of International Affairs, Immigration and Cultural Communities.
With Parizeau's resignation on October 31, 1995, the day after the referendum, Lucien Bouchard became leader of the Parti Québécois and Bernard Landry would occupy his most important functions as Minister of International Affairs, Deputy Premier, Vice-President of the Executive Council, Minister of Industry, Trade, Science and Technology, Minister of Finance and Minister of Revenue.
He served as Minister of Finance from 1996 to 2001, charged with implementing the Act respecting the elimination of the deficit and a balanced budget, put forward by Lucien Bouchard. When the 1999-2000 budget was tabled, Bernard Landry announced that the zero deficit had been reached, that the budget was balanced. The zero deficit policy was presented by Bernard Landry and other leaders of the PQ government of the time as an expression of the need to not leave future generations with the financial deficits of the present, and even as a winning condition required for Quebec to attain its sovereignty and having the means to realize it.
In fact, the zero deficit policy was a neo-liberal anti-social offensive against the people, marked in particular by huge cuts in health and education services, which were slashed by the Bouchard government, and an ever greater transfer of the social wealth produced by the workers to the coffers of the rich. It was a change in the state's arrangements, whereby governance is usurped by big private interests. This marked a break in the social contract and values based upon social solidarity, the "Quebec model," a break from which the Parti Québécois never recovered. Quebec continues to suffer from this direction of the economy that pays the rich and demands to be reversed in favour of a pro-social direction of the economy that defends the rights of all and in which the decision-making rests with the people themselves.
At the same time, Bernard Landry is credited with developing social programs during those years such as pharmacare and early childhood education centres (CPEs) at a very modest cost, which, amongst other things, played a real role in enabling women to join the ranks of the active workforce.
On March 2, 2001, following Lucien Bouchard's resignation, Bernard Landry became leader of the Parti Quebecois and Premier of Quebec.
As Premier, he played a direct and leading role in the signing of the Agreement Concerning a New Relationship Between le Gouvernement du Québec and the Crees of Québec, known as the Paix des Braves, on February 7, 2002. The agreement stipulated that the Crees and the government are jointly responsible for managing traditional Cree lands and sharing revenues from mineral, forest and hydro resources. Under this agreement, the Quebec government pledged $3.5 billion to the Crees over the next 50 years, in exchange for which the Crees agreed to allow Hydro-Québec to restart its two major hydroelectric projects on the Eastmain and Rupert Rivers, provided for in the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement (JBNQA) in 1975. They also committed to drop their legal proceedings against that Agreement, which had denied their ancestral rights. With respect to forest resources, which are an important part of the agreement, the accord provided that forest management would be subject to prior consultation with the Cree-Québec Council.
We owe to Bernard Landry the introduction of National Patriots' Day. In November 2002, this holiday to be celebrated on the Monday preceding May 25, was adopted through decree. That meant the withdrawal of Dollard or Victoria Day -- which was also celebrated on that same day in May. Speaking about it in 2017, he said, "First, the idea was to pay tribute to people who had been imprisoned, hanged or exiled. Then, the pedagogical aspect: if, every year students are told that there is a day off, teachers, because of their duty and their profession, will talk about the patriots. So, that idea is revived!"
He became Leader of the Opposition in 2003 after the victory of Jean Charest's Liberals. At the congress of the Parti Québécois on June 4, 2005, he announced his resignation, declaring that he considered the support of 76.2 per cent of delegates during a vote of confidence, insufficient.
Upon his death, Bernard Landry was recognized as a man of great culture and erudition, who shaped government decision-making for three decades. This is true, but we must keep in mind that throughout his political life, even after his resignation as leader of the Parti Québécois, he intervened in Quebec politics without ever recognizing the need to change the direction of the economy so that it is Quebeckers who make the decisions that affect their lives, or the need for sovereignty on a modern basis, to build a Quebec that defends the rights of all.
Following a first very successful evening on November 9, 2018, where emphasis was placed on the opposition of the Quebec people to enlistment in the service of the British empire in an unjust war for the redivision of the world, the PMLQ will be holding its second commemorative evening on November 16.
On that occasion, the setting moves to the struggle of the colonial peoples from Africa, Asia, the Middle East and the Caribbean, as well as resistance in the trenches on the Western Front of the war in Europe. Again, interventions, recitals and filmed presentations will provide lively support to the commemoration.
Imperialist warmongers continue today to propagate disinformation such as that during World War I, the colonial peoples were keen to serve in the armies of their imperialist overlords. Such propaganda is entirely self-serving, as the peoples from around the world who were living under the yoke of British, French, Belgian, German, Japanese and other colonizers, were being terrorized, enslaved and exploited, their resources plundered and their striving for independence and self-determination criminalized. They were not enthusiastic in the least about having their youth serve as cannon fodder in an imperialist war between rival European powers for the redivision of the world.
Far from being the war to end all wars, World War I perpetuated the colonial system, denied nations the right to self-determination and sowed the seeds of future conflicts and wars in Europe and around the world. The evening of the 16th will bring to the fore certain acts of rebellion by the colonial peoples' at that time.
The November 9th commemoration was dedicated to the struggle of the people of Quebec against participation in the war in the service of British empire, and in particular, in opposition to conscription.
On behalf of the PMLQ, Fernand Deschamps noted from the evening's start that the First World War was a war between the empires of the day for the redivision of the world and control over the colonies. That redivison, he explained, was aimed at grabbing the sources of cheap, raw materials and manpower and zones for the export of capital, as well as the acquisition of strategic influence. He denounced the disinformation carried out by the ruling elite that this war of plunder marked "Canada's coming of age" as a nation.
Noting the danger of a global conflagration that again weighs heavily on the world's peoples, he said, "We are witnessing today a similar, although somewhat different, situation. Coalitions comprised of oligopolies roam the entire globe looking to enrich themselves through any means possible. Even here in Quebec and in Canada, in the name of the national interest, successive governments talk about making such oligopolies "competitive," in order to justify pay-the-rich schemes and the criminalization of workers, the resistance movement of the people, the movement to vest decision-making power in them, and the anti-war movement."
Fernand denounced the further integration of Quebec and Canada into the U.S. imperialist war machine and saluted the resistance struggle of the people against U.S. imperialist and NATO wars of aggression and occupation.
Participants then observed a minute of silence in memory of all the victims of World War I and all those who heroically fought against this imperialist war.
Martine Éloy, of the Collectif Échec à la guerre, then spoke that organization's work to defeat war, that took the form of large demonstrations, in particular against Canada's participation in the war of aggression against Iraq in March of 2003, which gathered together some 250,000 people. She explained that the collective's work is presently centred around what she referred to as the ""deconstruction of war propaganda," in particular with regard to NATO, as a means to expose its falsified characterization in the public space. She raised the issue of the current 8th White Poppy Campaign to reaffirm that commemorations must not serve as a pretext for the glorification of war. Martine encouraged everyone to don the white poppy and take part in the vigil on November 11, during Remembrance Day commemorations.
Youth then very warmly, and with conviction, recited three anti-conscription and anti-war poems, taken from our history. The first, À bas la conscription, both a poem as well as a song, was written by Pat King.
The second, entitled Le petit conscrit, was composed
during the First World
War by Loïc Le Gouriadec, a Breton who emigrated to Quebec and was
Montreal at the time.
The third poem, Un Foyer, une Patrie, an excerpt from the poem entitled L'Emballement, was written by Apollinaire Gingras, a catholic priest linked to Laval University.
An excerpt of a video was then presented, where historian Jean Provencher recounts the events surrounding the mass demonstrations in Quebec City in opposition to conscription, which took place at the end of Easter week in 1918, between Holy Thursday and Easter Monday.
This was followed by the screening of the film La Guerre oubliée, directed by filmmaker Richard Boutet in 1987. The film gives pride of place to veterans who are interviewed and relate what took place in the trenches during the war; they speak about the activities of spotters in Quebec City whose job it was to hunt down and capture those who refused to enlist or had deserted and explain how residents got together and chased them out of town. Women recount the great solidarity that existed in towns to hide, assist and feed those who had rebelled and gone into hiding in the woods. Workers also recall the massive anti-conscription demonstrations that took place in Quebec City at the end of Easter week in 1918 and the all out opposition to the War Measures Act, as well as to the presence of the Canadian army, sent to crush the resistance and shoot at the crowd, killing five people.
The evening was very informative and inspiring and bodes well for the two remaining commemorative evenings.
1. For an in-depth report on World War 1 and the significance of commemorations on the centenary of the war, please read: "The Need to Make Commemorations Significant" by Pauline Easton, The Marxist-Leninist Weekly, October 20, 2018
Please also read the Supplements in The Marxist-Leninist Weekly, published on November 6, 7, 9, 10 and 11, 2018
Sunday, November 11 at 11:00 am marked the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War. In response to the call of the Collectif Échec à la guerre, over 100 people in Montreal held a silent vigil at Canada Place, where the official ceremony of the Royal Canadian Legion was taking place to mark Remembrance Day. It is a "symbolic action to provide another meaning to this commemoration. The purpose of this action is to provide greater visibility for public opinion that disapproves of the narrow and military nature of official ceremonies and their recuperation aimed and glorifying war and justifying Canada's participation in new wars," noted the Collectif Échec à la guerre, which has organized the vigil over the last eight years.
Demonstrators held the Collective's banner that read "Defeat War -- Make Way for Peace" as well as another banner that simply read "In Memory of ALL the Victims of War." Everyone had donned the white poppy, which has been worn for at least 80 years as a symbol of: the memory of all the victims of war, a commitment to peace and a challenge to attempts to glorify or celebrate war.
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