Once More on the Harper Cabinet Shuffle

Once More on the Harper Cabinet

Once More on the Harper Cabinet Shuffle

Labour - Get Ready for a Fight!

January 21, 2010

Don Currie, Editor, Focus on Socialism

The media is trivializing the Harper Cabinet shuffle. On March 4th the Harper Government will present MP’s, locked out from their jobs by the Prime ministerial prorogation with an austerity budget[1]. The Harper plan to stimulate the economy is a failure for the people. A huge deficit has been wrung up on behalf of banks and big investors and now the government is planning to dump that burden on the backs of working people.

The Harper-Flaherty-Day March 4th austerity budget will be cunningly designed to justify $19 billion in annual social program cuts over the next few years, to wipe out a $56 billion structural deficit resulting from handouts to private banks, the private auto sector and exempt these parasites from paying back a penny of the public handouts they have received.  The Harper Austerity Budget will cut social programs while maintaining rising expenditures of the US-NATO war in Afghanistan[2],[3] and the ½ trillion dollar Canada First Defence Strategy.[4]

That is the significance of Stockwell Day taking over Treasury.  With Day in charge, Canadian workers are in for a big pay cut from combined losses in social spending in health, welfare and seniors programs.[5]  After March 4th, Day can be relied upon to facilitate the further privatization of health services.  Wage freezes on federal government employees are coming.  Federal transfer payments to the provinces will be frozen.  Provinces will be ordered to make do[6] and download rising costs to cash strapped municipalities already desperately short of funds to operate the public school system and provide basic services.  Without federal strings attached, provincial regimes will continue to close schools[7] and use federal funds to pay off Olympic Games bondholders[8] and fund such boondoggles as the Atlantic and Pacific Gateway projects.

Personal indebtedness now approaching the total of GDP[9], will climb as more workers are forced to buy necessities on credit to live. Nothing will be done to reduce bank credit card charges, halt personal bankruptcies and foreclosures.  Student indebtedness and youth unemployment will rise to new historic levels.[10],[11]  The dreams of working class families to send children to post secondary education will be deferred and youth in growing numbers will be chasing fewer low skilled minimum wage jobs. More families will fall into despair as EI provisions are exhausted.[12]

The Harper government will manage the further decline of the manufacturing sector and the home market for goods produced in Canada, making the country more dependent on foreign imports.

Purchasing power of employed workers is poised to decline as the government encourages a wage freeze and prices on basic necessities creep up to compensate for falling profit margins. Interest rates will begin to rise.

The country is poised to become more dependent on energy exports as the principal driver of the entire economy.[13] The Harper Government is staking its entire political future on a profit turnaround from private investment in Tar Sands projects.

The temptation for the government to raid the CPP and transfer more of its funds to CCP Investment Fund to bolster a sagging stock market will grow.[14]  Harper has already abused the purpose of the EI Fund and now the Canada and Mortgage Fund.[15] The latter was ordered to back stop bank loans to homebuyers to the tune of $25 billion[16] causing a temporary housing bubble that is certain to backfire on thousands of Canadians in need of decent housing as low interest rates begin to rise.

The ballyhooed government $100 billion stimulus package, largely an exercise in PR ostensibly aimed at job creation has yet to expand jobs.  Unemployment is 1.5 million (8.5%) in 2009 with the hardest hit group, youth in the age group, 15 to 24.[17] There isn’t a single economic analyst that will dare predict an increase demand for labour.

In his speech to the Conservative caucus on January 22, 2010, even Harper was not bold enough to predict a revival in employment defining the international economic situation as “fragile”.

The Prime Minister’s dirty secret that he won’t share with the country is that due to his efforts, the so-called recovery in the economy is a jobless-profit recovery and that is what he means, when he calls upon the caucus to “stay the course.”  

The government is hanging on to power because of complacency by the top leadership of organized labour.  The CLC could turn politics around in favour of working people if it would act and decisively and go over the heads of all political parties directly to the working people with a program of economic recovery for the unemployed, under employed and underpaid.

The spectacle of the leadership of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), plodding to Parliament Hill and pleading with the Harper Government to act for working people, is much like David Copperfield’s artless orphan plea to the poor house overseers for “more please, sir.”

The ritual fulfilled and the moral duty discharged, the CLC brass exits as one leaves a church service, absolved of sin, reborn as it were, reporting to believers that the high priests of labour, have carried the message to Government that 17 million Canadians who must work to live, deserve at least as much consideration as five or six chartered banks and a handful of bank directors and their minions. After all we are all in this together aren’t we? We are all finance capital’s children.

After presenting one convincing and well documented CLC presentation after the other to Parliamentary Committees[18], “thank the Department of Finance for its public consultation”[19],  plead for “fairness” and “consideration” for its 3.2 million members, the CLC leadership is politely listened to and its presentation filed.

Petitioning Government is not enough.  The CLC has the power and the resources to step into the political spotlight on behalf of all Canadians who live on wages.

That is the significance of the call of the Communist Party for a CLC Sponsored Conference to confront Harper with labour’s plan for economic recovery.

Prime Minister Harper will be grandstanding at the Vancouver Olympics. That is where CLC President Ken Georgetti needs to be, speaking for the working people of Canada and the world…Now is the Time!

Out of the CLC back rooms and into the public domain!

A CLC Fight Back Conference Now!


 David Akin,  “Scholars join protest against prorogation”, January 11, 2010,  http://www.canada.com/News/Scholars+join+protest+against+prorogation/2430080/story.html 


CBC News, “IN DEPTH Afghanistan- Canada in Afghanistan”, February 10, 2009, www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2009/02/10/f-afghanistan.html


CBC News, “Canada's Afghan mission could cost up to $18.1B”, October 9, 2008, http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2008/10/09/afghanistan-cost-report.html   


Government of Canada, “Canada First Defence Strategy”, June 2008, http://focusonsocialism.ca/upload/CanadaFirstDefenceStrategy.pdf


Steven Chase and Bill Curry, “Federal budget will launch spending review, Day says”, Globe and Mail, January 20, 2010, http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/federal-budget-will-launch-spending-review-day-says/article1438358/


Steven Chase and Oliver Moore, “Ottawa warns provinces will be cutting back, too”, Globe and Mail, January 22, 2010, http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ottawa-warns-provinces-will-be-cutting-back-too/article1439826/


Janet Steffenhagen, “School districts warn of teacher layoffs and school closures”, Vancouver Sun, January 20, 2010, http://www.vancouversun.com/business/School+districts+warn+teacher+layoffs+school+closures/2462668/story.html


Canadians for Peace and Socialism, “An Open Letter to Premier Campbell”, January 20, 2010, http://www.focusonsocialism.ca/random.asp?ID=300


Certified General Accountants Association of Canada, “Where Has the Money Gone: The State of Canadian Household Debt in a Stumbling Economy”, June 12, 2009, http://focusonsocialism.ca/upload/CGGAC-Where-Has-the%20Money-Gone.pdf


Canadian Federation of Students, “Students continue to struggle with debt: Statistics Canada”, April 22, 2009, http://www.cfs-fcee.ca/html/english/media/mediapage.php?release_id=983


Canadian Federation of Students, “Canadian Federation of Students, “Students continue to struggle with debt: Statistics Canada”, April 22, 2009,”, August 7, 2009, http://www.cfs-fcee.ca/html/english/media/mediapage.php?release_id=1033


Canadian Labour Congress, “‘Year from hell’ for unemployed - CLC President says government tinkers, but refuses to reform”, November 6, 2009,  http://www.canadianlabour.ca/national/news/year-hell-unemployed-clc-president-says-government-tinkers-refuses-reform


Dina O'Meara, “Tens of billions to flow to pipelines in coming decades”, Calgary Herald,  January 6, 2010, http://www.edmontonjournal.com/business/energy-resources/Tens+billions+flow+pipelines+coming+decades/2410643/story.html


CPP Investment Board, “Frequently Asked Questions”, http://www.oirpc.ca/faqs.html


Michel Chossudovsky, “Canada's 75 Billion Dollar Bank Bailout”, Global Research, January 25, 2009, www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=12007


Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), “Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation Supports Canadian Credit Markets”, CHMC Press Release, October 10, 2008, http://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/corp/nero/nere/2008/2008-10-10-1700.cfm


Statistics Canada, “Labour Force Survey”, January 8, 2010,  http://www.statcan.gc.ca/subjects-sujets/labour-travail/lfs-epa/lfs-epa-eng.htm


Canadian Labour Congress, “Submissions to Parliament”, http://www.canadianlabour.ca/news-room/submissions-parliament


Canadian Labour Congress, “Strengthening the Legislative and Regulatory Framework for Private Pension Plans Subject to the Pensions Benefits Standards Act”, August 5, 2009, http://www.canadianlabour.ca/news-room/submissions/strengthening-legislative-and-regulatory-framework-private-pension-plans-subje