OVER 18,000 VISITS A MONTH AND OVER 400 READERS EACH DAY.
HOME /// ABOUT REBEL YOUTH /// FIRE KEVIN O'LEARY CAMPAIGN /// DEBATE /// WRITE AS YOU FIGHT

March 11, 2006

Stop the Criminalization of Youth!

Stop the Criminalization of Youth!
Young Communist League – March 2006

The new Conservative Justice Minister unveiled the priorities of the Harper regime on the legal front this week. Among the key priorities as announced by Justice Minister Vic Toews are calls for harsher punishments for "young offenders", trial of youth as adults for various serious crimes, and for an end to the policy of exempting youth under 12 from criminal charges.

The Conservative government is calling for a minimum sentence of five years for youth involved in gun crimes. The NDP has proposed what many, including Toews himself have described a "Conservative light" version of the proposal; four years minimum. Nonetheless, a light version of a bad, reactionary policy is still bad and reactionary.

Violence and crime affects youth around the country on a daily basis. It especially affects Aboriginal youth, youth of colour and immigrant youth who are forced by the racist capitalist system into conditions of poverty which are the breeding grounds for crime. All of this has largely been ignored by the media, or written off. But with the tragic shooting death of Jane Creba, a young white woman in downtown Toronto, this winter, the Conservatives are taking an opportunity to fear monger their "anti-crime" agenda through parliament and to effectively criminalize youth.

This situation is not limited to, but generally is worse amongst youth affected directly by the racism of the capitalist system, by the ruling class’ divide and rule policies. In February, a study by the CLC found that "the job market discriminates against workers of colour, and more so against young workers who are Canadian-born." A recent survey by a criminology student at the University of Toronto found that over half of black young men who responded have been searched by police at least twice in the past year, a result of "racial profiling" by the police. Similar police abuse can be found anywhere around the country where youth are targeted because of the colour of their skin, the way they look or dress, or even just because they are young. Youth crime and violence in our communities are directly caused by the conditions imposed on the development of youth by the capitalist system. The reactionary call for youth to be tried as adults will lead to the ruin of more young lives, to further racist attacks on youth of colour and Aboriginal youth, but not to an end to crime and violence.

Over the past decade there has been an increased shift towards youth prisons and boot camps and towards trying young offenders as adults. These actions also fall in line with deep-integration with U.S. imperialism and its policies towards crime which has effectively led to the criminalization of youth in the United States, and the creation of the highly profitable prison industrial complex. The people of Canada must demand that our sovereignty be protected and reject the notion of carbon copying the failed U.S. prison system in Canada. Neither the U.S. system, nor our current system have ever successfully stopped crime. While the right wing calls for harder punishments, we see an increase in criminal activities in many countries where such reforms are made such as the United States. On the other hand, socialist countries like Cuba, have adopted systems based on rehabilitation and education, and have shown some of the lowest levels of criminal activities around the world.

Punishing youth harder will never solve youth crime while the conditions that cause such crime in the first place are only worsening. The capitalist system is in crisis. Unemployment, mass lay-offs, low wages and high prices, "zero tolerance" policies leading to exclusions and expulsions from school, poverty and hunger, racism, sexism and homophobia are just some of the conditions that youth and their families have to grow up in under capitalism. Many youth are left with no high school diplomas, no trades or training, no access to post-secondary education, jobs, or affordable housing. These are realities for many youth in Canada today, who are left angry, feeling as though they have no future and desperate to find a way to make ends meet.

The YCL joins with the Communist Party and other progressive forces in calling for changes to address the conditions that lead to crime and violence. We need jobs, free and universal public education and Medicare, sports and leisure facilities, a Charter of Youth Rights. The YCL opposes changes to the Youth Justice Act that would lead to the potential imprisonment of more youth and even young children. We need a system that focuses on rehabilitation, not punishment. We need to focus on the roots of the problems, not the branched and leaves of it.

While we demand immediate reforms to reverse the criminalization of youth and for a more progressive and effective method of fighting crime, we also realize that capitalism creates, and always will create, the conditions for increased crime and violence. Only a revolution leading to the elimination of the capitalist system and the creation of a new, socialist, society can create the conditions for the eventual elimination of crime and violence in our society.

Stop the Criminalization of Youth!

Stop Conservatives Anti-Sex Agenda!

Stop Conservatives Anti-Sex Agenda!
YCL Canada, March 2006

According to new Justice Minister Vic Toews, an immediate priority of Harper’s Conservative regime will be an increase of the age of sexual consent from 14 years of age to 16. This call is no surprise from a party notorious for its anti-sex, anti-sexual freedom and anti-women positions on a variety of issues, most notably abortion and gay marriage.

This new move to change the age of consent is a veiled account to outlaw youth sexuality. Just like the Conservatives plans to lengthen prison sentences for youth and begin jailing children (see "Stop Criminalization of Youth!" statement); this too is an attempt to impose reactionary, imperialist and moralistic policies on problems or supposed problems without taking into account the root of the issues or the real problems young people face today.

The Conservatives, along with reactionary and quasi-fascist organizations like the Heritage Front and the Christian Heritage Party, would like to see an end to sex education in schools, the imposition of their right-wing religious views about sexuality on all of society, an end to gay marriage and even bans on homosexuality and abortion. They certainly aren’t interested in allowing youth to learn about safe sex, or to see sex in a positive, healthy light. They cover their fascistic positions on these basic social questions with empty phrases about "freedom of speech", "religious freedom", and "the right to life". It is the same as the neo-Nazis of the Heritage Front, Ku Klux Klan, and other groups cover their racism and anti-Semitism with phrases of "white pride" and "white freedom" while trying to accuse those who call for equality of being the real racists.

The same reactionaries who throw rhetoric about STI’s, teen pregnancy etc. in the mix with their moralistic jabber, oppose proper sex education in school, thus proving that their concern is not the well being of youth, only the pursuit of their own political goals driven by their anti-people ideologies.

The Young Communist League calls for a fight back against these policies. We unite with left and progressive forces in defending sexual freedoms and the right to choose. We demand sex education in schools that will teach youth the truth about sexual health and give a positive outlook. Safe sexual practices should be emphasized, not the replaced by religiously inspired "abstinence" curriculums. Youth have a right to make their own sexual choices, and to have the necessary education provided to them, publicly and free of charge, so that they can make informed decisions. Pro-feminist, pro-sex and pro-queer views should be promoted in place of the anti-women, homophobic, anti-sex views promoted by the ruling class in their divide and rule tactics.

No to the Changed Age of Consent!
Defend Sexual Freedom!
For the Right of Youth to Sexual Equality!

March 9, 2006

Women's Rights Under Attack, Youth Unite: push Harper Back!

ON INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY 2006, the Young Communist League stands together with the women's movement as we celebrate the victories of all girls and women in the past – and focus on the fights ahead.

A month ago, and with only 36% of the vote, Steven Harper's new cowboy Conservatives rode into Ottawa along side the old Mike Harris gang, re-loaded. The Harper agenda will be very sweet and profitable for big business (and Uncle Sam). Harper will attack the equality rights of women and girls. We must push back!

Young women workers and students, both women and men, will have an important role to play in the fight-back for women's equality rights, by mobilizing and protesting.

Women and young women are being hit hard by THE SEXIST CORPORATE AGENDA and Harper's plans will make life harder. We must mobilize and fight back to stop education and health care being further privatized, prevent the small steps towards national child care from getting stomped on, and halt billions of dollars wasted on corporate tax-evasion, tax-breaks and US wars.

Turn on the TV. Ever seen advertisements, music videos and song lyrics serve up our sisters as "bitches" and "hoes"? Women become degraded things, not people. The big businesses owning these stations (like Bell Canada) don't stop violence against women. They put it in the TV guide.

Bulimia and anorexia: why is it reality in all Canadian high schools today? The corporate media knows that body pride and women's well-being won't sell. CONTROLLING OUR BODIES is a right!

Women's health programmes get pennies, while Canadian corporations keep fortunes from tiny taxes. But millions go to brand promotion! Sexist brand wars come from the capitalism. Driven by greed and competition, capitalism can't make a social plan to benefit women and working people. Women's bodies and dignity before profits!

This is a class and gender issue of CAPTIALISM AND PATRIARCHY AGAINST DEMOCRACY, of who is in charge, and who benefits. Take February's headlines: South Dakota Outlaw's Abortion. Women in Canada are justifiably to be outraged by the right-wing drive against reproductive freedom in the US. The best solidarity with our American sisters is a strong united campaign, blocking such a reactionary push in Canada. No "free vote" on abortion in Canada 2006!

Education about birth control and healthy sexuality is a right. Free condoms and daycare in all schools, including Catholic schools! Instead of abstinence and hetro-sex ed, young women have a RIGHT TO PRO-FEMINIST, PRO-SEX, PRO-QUEER EDUCATION.

Instead, Ontario schools present the view of the ruling class. The stories of working-class women role-models, like militant trade union leaders such as Annie Buller (a Communist, unjustly jailed in the 1930s and 40s), as well as aboriginal woman, and women of colour must be recognized and taught. Expand curriculum against rape, harassment, relationship abuse, ableism, and homophobia. Every space, including all workplaces, must be a safe space free from discrimination.

Look what young women just did at the Torino Olympics – and at the unequal support women's hockey gets. Expand women's sports in and out of schools; make them equally funded and accessible. It's time to end cut backs. A new high school funding model must be implemented and funding restored, now!

Women who want a university education, meanwhile, find that it is becoming more and more expensive, and their student debt is crippling. POST-SECONDARY EDUCATION MUST BE EQUALLY ACCESSIBLE! Harper's Conservatives privately support "Income Contingent Loan Schemes:" lifelong repayment of student debt. Students, including the CFS, are right to denounce this longer debt sentence as sexist. It takes women longer to pay-back loans. Child or elder care make you quit your job (but the interest on your student loan still grows).

Women in Canada make 28% less than men. They are the last hired and first fired. True, the pay gap has narrowed over time –and now men's wages are falling. That's an ass-backward way to get equality. Canadian corporations make billions off pay inequity. And as corporate profits hit record levels in 2005, women's poverty hit a twenty year high.

Over the past ten years in Ontario, for every $1 increase in the incomes of the poorest 10% of families, there was a $108 increase in the incomes of the richest 10%. The poorest of the poor in Canada are women, including young women.

It's about winning better work and better wages. Ontario's minimum wage, up to $7.75 this February, legislates poverty (see chart). Weekly grocery costs alone in Ontario have gone up $13.25 cents over the past five years! It is time to RAISE WAGES. We need a wage that lifts women above the poverty line, to $12 an hour. That's the rate a single mother would need to hit the poverty line – and they said it back in 1999!

JOBS NOT BOMBS! The military budget just saw its biggest increase in twenty years. Canadian troops are being deployed in more high-danger zones in Afghanistan. As the Communist Party of Canada recently stated, imperialism and its allies are the worst enemies of women's rights:

Over 100,000 Iraqi civilians, mainly women and children, have died under the illegal US-led occupation. "Liberated" Afghan women still face threats and violence for working outside the home. The flawed recent "elections" in Haiti took place two years after the overthrow (with Canadian participation) of democratically-elected President Aristide, an advocate of genuine women's equality. The women of Palestine live in poverty, while the US pours billions of dollars in aid and arms into Israel.

"The Bush White House cooperates with patriarchal religious forces in a global offensive against women's reproductive rights. After the restoration of capitalism in the former European socialist countries, women face a stark choice between ghettoized low-wage jobs, or entry into the global capitalist sex trade." The War on Terror is also a war against women's equality rights.

If youth unite, we can push Harper back. To combat the assault on women's rights in Canada, we need unity of all progressive forces. Youth have an important role to play here.

Youth and students are one of the most dynamic and progressive forces in society. Time and time again in Canada, young people have been at the front pushing for change.

Youth in the trade union movement, as well as the Canadian Federation of Students and many other youth cultural -- including a re-invigorated NAC (holding its AGM in May 2006) – could form a powerful and formidable resistance. Our proposal for common action is a Charter of Youth Rights.

Together, we can defeat the drive to the right and the big business push against women and the working class. Together with the Communist Party, the Young Communist League demands:

* block the Harper government's attacks on equality rights.

* end all Canadian participation in the phony "war on terrorism." Solidarity with the women of Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Palestine, Colombia, Venezuela, Cuba, the Philippines, Korea and other countries facing imperialist occupation and violence.

* safe, public, accessible abortion clinics in all parts of Canada.

* allocate 1% of the federal budget to the creation of social, affordable and subsidized housing.

* protect and expand equality gains by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people.

* replace the student loans program by student grants; eliminate post-secondary tuition fees and pay students a stipend; massively expand trade programmes, including young women.

* a universal, affordable, non-profit childcare system with Canada-wide standards.

* a 30 hour week with no loss in pay and no reduction in public services; full benefits for part-time workers; raise the minimum wage to $12 an hour.

* intensify efforts to organize part-time workers and female dominated workplaces.

* restore and extend employment and pay equity legislation; expand job creation programs, especially for disadvantaged young women; remove barriers to EI coverage; expand parental leave benefits to 52 weeks.

* reinstate and expand core funding for equality-seeking women's organizations, including NAC; full funding for grassroots, feminist services to deal with violence against women.

* enshrine within the constitution the rights of Aboriginal peoples, Quebec, and Acadians to self-determination and self-government, and guarantee the full economic, social and political equality of Aboriginal women.

The root cause of this assault on women's rights is CAPITALISM. Sexism is a divide and rule tactic. Corporations have a lot to gain by paying their female workers less than men. But women not only work: they do the bulk of domestic labour. Ultimately, sexism and the double oppression of women can only be ended with the elimination of capitalism – and its replacement by real democracy, where the working people (the majority) call the shots: socialism. This is the aim of the YCL. Join the struggle today!

International Women’s Day

(WFDY) World Federation of Democratic Youth’s Salute
8th of March – International Women’s Day

On the occasion of this historical day WFDY extends its greetings to all the women all over the world and expresses its militant solidarity with all the movements launched by the courageous women in various countries.

The 20th century can be considered a century that is marked by great conquers on the women’s rights. Nowadays they participate in all the spheres of life but is also true that the women remain to be strongly discriminated and under to a minor status in the society and in the family despite of the formal proclamation of gender equity between man and women. It is believed that many positive steps towards women's empowerment have been made, but still much remains to be done.

It is widely recognized that the issues of young women are diverse and varied, yet there are commonalities that link their experience throughout the world. They are affected by human rights violations including lack of access to information and education, discrimination on employment opportunities and rights, imbalance of economic power, violence, human trafficking, sexual exploitation, negative portrayal in the media, poverty, situations of armed conflict and post conflict, limited access to decision-making process, cultural, religious, social, political and economic barriers to young women's empowerment, sustainability of environmental resources, and lack of access to proper health care and sexual and reproductive health rights and education. Additionally, young women face discrimination on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, refugee status, disability, age, class, race, education, language, ethnicity, religion, political ideology, socio-economic class, caste, marital status, HIV status, occupation and physical appearance. Young women's rights are human rights.

Nowadays as in the past the women’s struggle and the reinforcement of their organizations assume an extraordinary importance for their emancipation as well as on the struggle for peace, self-determination, independence and sovereignty, international solidarity, justice, freedom, democracy and social progress. The emancipation of the women became an aspiration and a demand that mobilizes wide progressive sectors. We don’t see this date as day to pay a little bit more attention to the women and their problems but a moment that celebrates the long and brave role of women and their struggle.

WFDY strongly opposes and works against all forms of discrimination against women of the world and reaffirms its stand for the equal participation and rights for the women in all sectors of life and society. WFDY believes that it is essential that the participation of women within our movement be increased and that equality of the gender should be guaranteed. This principle will strengthen our movement. Hence, we commit ourselves to continue the struggle for the advancement of women's rights.

Coordinating Council / Headquarters of WFDY

Budapest, 8th of March 2006

March 8, 2006

YCL TO HOLD ON-LINE ORGANIZING MEETING

YCL TO HOLD ON-LINE ORGANIZING MEETING

The Young Communist League of Canada is gearing up for a major on‑line organizing meeting of all members, the YCL announced in early March.

The meeting, to be held on Sunday, March 26, will bring together YCLers from across the country to discuss planning for a founding central convention. Since an initial conference in Vancouver three years ago, the re‑launched YCL has joined in high school and university campaigns, worked on picket lines, engaged in the peace movements and helped build the Canadian delegation to the 16th World Youth Festival in Caracas Venezuela.

"I think we've made some excellent steps forward," Johan Boyden, Ontario YCL organizer told People's Voice, adding that the CPC has allocated funds to a YCL budget and is assigning young people in the party to help build the YCL. "It is an extremely exciting development. It means we will be able to welcome international guests, and launch an organizing drive before the convention."

Educational/cultural events are another idea, he notes. "All these things will be discussed by membership in detail on the 26th."

The YCL Central Preparatory Committee has issued a letter to all members and applicants and is planning to attract participants in areas where the League has little base. So far, clubs have been set up across BC and Ontario, plus a start in Winnipeg.

"Our goal here, however is bigger and broader," Boyden stated. "We want to build a pan‑Canadian organization, one that brings together revolutionary youth in Quebec and English Canada, as well as the First Nations, with a common unity of purpose. That will mean expanding the preparatory committee also, to reflect this goal."

Recent YCL statements for International Women's Day and the March 18th Peace Rally have emphasized the need for a strong pan-Canadian youth movement as critical to defeat the new, Harper‑style corporate agenda. "To really confront this anti‑youth and student assault and we're talking about a country that is one of the richest in the world, where our youth unemployment policy has not dropped below 14% in thirty years - we need a strong resistance. Now." Boyden stated.

"Thousands are marching against war and US empire. The NDP's lack of action and youth policies have discredited their claim to be the only forum for a `new politics' of `left' and progressive youth ‑ especially after their stance on crime in the last election. More and more young people see real alternatives in Cuba and Venezuela, creating tremendous hope in Canada for broad resistance, uniting youth and students, and making a sharp break with the corporate agenda. Now is the time to join the YCL," he said.

For more information about the March 26 meeting, please write to ycl_ljc@ycl‑ljc.ca.

Popular stories