Adrien Welsh, chair of the Young Communist League of Canada's International Commission
On the International Day of Migrants, 18 December 2015, the Young Communist League of Canada joins with thousands of others around the world to express its solidarity with the millions of women, men and children forced every year to leave their country, family, home and job because of war, economic need or climate change.
This year, the day of solidarity is especially timely due to the international situation as well as the situation in Canada. Capitalism has not exited the structural economic crisis it experienced in 2008. Consequently, the ruling class continues to organize its rushed offensive as it needs to ensure its control over new markets, access to natural resources and cheap labor. To do so, the bourgeoisie will stop at nothing. Every pocket of resistance to the imperialist plans must be destroyed. Thus, after having financed supposedly moderate Islamist forces to combat the infamous Bashar al-Assad in Syria, imperialism has no right to intervene now under NATO, the armed wing of imperialism, for supposedly humanitarian purposes. It is worthwhile to remember that Iraq is home to the fifth largest oil reserves in the world.
Thus, in addition to killing more than 200,000 people since the conflict began in 2011, there are now more than 4 million displaced in the Fertile Crescent region.
In Ukraine, after supporting a coup fomented with the help of fascist elements, the European Union, NATO and their allies were delighted to have helped bring “democracy”. They were pleased to have conquered a market of paramount importance to the geo-political strategic plan for the expansion of their influence eastwards. To ensure their investment however, they had to call in an increased military presence in Eastern Europe and carry out bloody battles that left more than 6,400 dead and 1.4 million displaced according to the UN, of which 10,000 a day cross the border into neighbouring Russia.
Canada is partially responsible in both cases. In Syria, Canada, beginning under the leadership of the Conservatives, participated in air strikes, and now the new government says it will restructure its mission by sending soldiers to play a “training” role. In addition, an arms deal of $15 billion was signed between Canada and Saudi Arabia, a leading funder of the Islamic State. In Ukraine, Canada maintains 300 troops as a reserve force for the illegitimate government supported by the fascist forces of Kiev. In this context it is difficult to believe in the good faith of the Liberals, who want to look good after the ten years of racist and xenophobic policies of the Harper government, promising to accommodate 25,000 Syrian refugees - a tiny figure in comparison with countries such as Greece or Germany who have so far received 160,000 and 1 million respectively.
We don’t participate in this political theatre dominated by pyromaniac firefighters who present themselves as humanitarians because they welcome some refugees, while at the same time doubling efforts to cause havoc and break apart the whole Middle East. The crimes of imperialism cannot be absolved. The Liberals, Conservatives, and not even the New Democrats have had a clear position advocating for the dissolution of NATO or for an international policy based on peace and international solidarity. How can we believe in their good will and talk about “humanitarian duty” when their actions actually make matters worse.
We are not among those who applauded Angela Merkel when she announced in the middle of her party’s Convention to keep German borders open to refugees. All European economists are in agreement, even from the right wing, saying that this wave of immigrants will not harm the economy. The latest figures actually show the opposite. In Canada as well, we don’t believe the Liberals are accepting refugees only for reasons of charity. New immigrants can be a way to help with problems of an aging population.
More generally, there is no doubt that capitalists are in need of a more mobile and docile workforce capable of moving according to the immediate interests of corporations. This cause of migration affects the young people with full force. For example, in Spain since 2008, more than 500 000 young people have left the country. Fleeing misery because of the destruction of their country’s economy by imperialist powers, every year, thousands of young Africans try to cross the Mediterranean Sea trying to find the European El Dorado. In general, they become disenchanted quickly since at best they are forced to join the ranks of precarious proletariat or of the reserve army of labour (unemployment) and, at worse, they don’t reach the opposite bank of the Sea. This year, there were 22 000 that perished in the Mediterranean.
Migrant labour is a bargain for the ruling class, which can use it to put downward pressure on all wages and working conditions. This can be done by using the vulnerable situation of migrants to force them to accept any kind of labour they can get, or, as in Canada, by applying openly discriminatory immigration policies such as the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. This is why we need not only to welcome migrants, but also fight alongside them to guarantee the full respect of their rights as workers, including the right to unionize.
Another important consequence of the crisis of capitalism linked to migrant issues is the environmental crisis. As the international meetings on climate change have just concluded in Paris, we must remember that global warming is very real and has a direct impact on populations. On a yearly average over the last ten years, about 27.5 million people were forced to leave their homes by disasters. By 2050, the number of displaced peoples is expected to rise to 1 billion climate refugees.
We find it necessary to use this day of solidarity to recognize and value the contribution immigrants have brought to our society, which is particularly important in Canada and all over North America. We recall in particular their contribution to different episodes of the history of progressive and workers’ movements such as the participation in the organization of first labour and farmers’ unions, in the first massive strikes and even in the formation of the Communist Party of Canada in the 1920s. We also recognize their cultural contribution as a collective good of great value.
In the context of the aftermath of the Paris attacks, there is no doubt that welcoming Syrian refugees will be campaigned against by ultra right forces. In Germany, the party PEGIDA mobilized thousands of people under islamophobic, racist and xenophobic slogans. In France, arguments once used by the National Front are now being repeated by the Socialist Prime Minister Manuel Valls. This dynamic is also present in Canada where in the last few weeks instances of islamophobic hate crimes have risen drastically.
It is necessary to organize our class’ refusal of this hate speech and above all to unveil how it serves the interests of the capitalist system by dividing workers, by distracting the masses’ attention from the main enemy and by justifying further imperialist military ventures in the Middle East. As internationalists, we restate that today more than ever, that the number one enemy of the youth, workers and popular masses are not immigrants, but capitalism - especially at its highest stage of imperialism. Immigrants, on the contrary, share the interests of the vast majority of the people: getting rid of this system’s barbarous burden that has nothing else to offer other than war, misery and the destruction of our environment.
Whether we are Canadians, Syrians or even Trobrianders, we must unite to carry on our fight against the profiteers who keep up attempts at dividing us, while at the same time they do not discriminate when it comes to exploit us. This is why the Young Communist League of Canada continues to demand:
- Canada’s immediate withdrawal from NATO, the armed fist of imperialism, and of all other imperialist treaties; the development of a foreign policy based on peace, disarmament, sustainable development and solidarity between peoples;
- The immediate withdrawal of all Canadian military forces mobilized outside of the country starting with troops in Ukraine and in the Middle East;
- The immediate cancellation of the 15 billion dollar arms agreement signed with Saudi Arabia, one of the principal sponsors of Daesh/ISIS;
- The welcoming of all immigrants and asylum seekers – no one is illegal;
- The elimination of laws on immigration and refugee statuses that give priority to wealthy people, creating multiple tiers of migrants, and the end of temporary foreign worker programs that disposes migrants them from their rights. Full status for all. All migrants worker rights should be guaranteed including the right to unionize and to go on strike;
- The repeal of Bill C-51 which attacks democratic rights under the pretext of the “war against terrorism” and of Bill C-24 which allows the withdrawal of Canadian citizenship to individuals convicted of “terrorism” and “treason”;
- A strengthening of the fight against islamophobia and all xenophobic and racist crimes, with stronger enforcement and more severe charges for people guilty of such crimes.