The Red Review

The Winter Review — "Please sign me up for some backdoor socialism"

April 06, 2022 Socialist Action Season 2 Episode 1
The Winter Review — "Please sign me up for some backdoor socialism"
The Red Review
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The Red Review
The Winter Review — "Please sign me up for some backdoor socialism"
Apr 06, 2022 Season 2 Episode 1
Socialist Action

All the people who work on The Red Review live and work on stolen Indigenous lands across Turtle Island. There can be no reconciliation without restitution, which includes Land Back, RCMP off Indigenous land, and seizing the assets of the major resource corporations and returning them to the commons.

In this episode of The Red Review, brought to you by Socialist Action, where hosts Emily and Daniel cover important struggles from the December into March, including the ambulance shortage in Alberta, the NDP-Liberal backroom deal, ongoing privatization in Newfoundland and Labrador, the struggle of meat packers at Cargill, UFCW betraying Uber workers, the seven year anniversary of the Saudi-led invasion of Yemen and Canada's complicity, and Socialist Action's demands regarding the Russian-Ukraine war.

You can reach us at redreview[at] and click here to join our
new Discord server!

If you enjoy our work and would like to support us financially, check out our
Ko-Fi page, where you can tip us or set up a monthly donation!

You can find Socialist Action on
Youtube, Facebook, and Twitter, or visit our website for more information.  Socialist Action also plays a leading role in the Worker's Action Movement, which is running the Labour Forward slate at the upcoming Canadian Labour Congress, and the NDP Socialist Caucus.

Gig Workers United
Canadian BDS Coalition
World Beyond War
Labour Against the Arms Trade
Palestine Youth Movement (+PYM Reading List)
Palestine House
Project Ploughshares
Yemeni Community Canada
Canada-wide Peace and Justice Network

"Top of the World" by Scott Holmes Music is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
"Prophet and Loss" by Blue Sky Moon is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Support the Show.

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

All the people who work on The Red Review live and work on stolen Indigenous lands across Turtle Island. There can be no reconciliation without restitution, which includes Land Back, RCMP off Indigenous land, and seizing the assets of the major resource corporations and returning them to the commons.

In this episode of The Red Review, brought to you by Socialist Action, where hosts Emily and Daniel cover important struggles from the December into March, including the ambulance shortage in Alberta, the NDP-Liberal backroom deal, ongoing privatization in Newfoundland and Labrador, the struggle of meat packers at Cargill, UFCW betraying Uber workers, the seven year anniversary of the Saudi-led invasion of Yemen and Canada's complicity, and Socialist Action's demands regarding the Russian-Ukraine war.

You can reach us at redreview[at] and click here to join our
new Discord server!

If you enjoy our work and would like to support us financially, check out our
Ko-Fi page, where you can tip us or set up a monthly donation!

You can find Socialist Action on
Youtube, Facebook, and Twitter, or visit our website for more information.  Socialist Action also plays a leading role in the Worker's Action Movement, which is running the Labour Forward slate at the upcoming Canadian Labour Congress, and the NDP Socialist Caucus.

Gig Workers United
Canadian BDS Coalition
World Beyond War
Labour Against the Arms Trade
Palestine Youth Movement (+PYM Reading List)
Palestine House
Project Ploughshares
Yemeni Community Canada
Canada-wide Peace and Justice Network

"Top of the World" by Scott Holmes Music is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
"Prophet and Loss" by Blue Sky Moon is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Support the Show.

Emily Steers  0:11  
Good day everybody, and welcome to The Red Review Season Two. We're so excited in bringing you new information, more interviews, more discussions and more perspectives on the Canadian state and its affairs from a socialist and internationalist perspective. My name is Emily steers, I use she/her pronouns, and I am speaking to you from the unceded territories of the Haudenosaunee, Attawandaron, and Anishinnabe peoples also known as Guelph, Ontario. I am a freelance musician and music teacher who's been involved with Socialist Action in some capacity since 2018.

Daniel Tarade  0:50  
And hi everybody, my name is Daniel trade. I am a scientist by training, currently a contract lecturer at X University, formerly Ryerson. In addition to working within Socialist Action as my home base since 2019, I'm also involved in reviving Science for the People in Canada. I'm coming to you from High Park in Toronto. I decided to look a little bit more into the specific history of the region of Toronto I'm in, and it's been inhabited by Indigenous people for at least 9000 years, not long after the glaciers receded and the great lakes were formed. The Black Oak Savanna here has been maintained through Indigenous stewardship for many years, and what remains of High Park is just a small small percentage of what used to be a thriving ecosystem. This is the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the credit, the Anishinaabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee, and the Wendat. Peoples. It's subject to the Dish with One Spoon Wampum Belt Covenant, an agreement between the Iroquois Confederacy and the Confederacy of the Ojibwe and the allied nations to peaceably share and care for the resources around the Great Lakes.

Emily Steers  2:00  
All right, well, I feel like I should come in with some more thorough research next time.

Daniel Tarade  2:04  
I think we can continue expanding on it. And it's a good practice for us to try and embody, especially after conversing with Jessica Hernandez on Indigenous science and the need to connect with the land where you are living in the ongoing process of becoming a welcome guest. And that's necessary for our whole organization of Socialist Action that sponsors this podcast. All people in Socialist Action, all people that work on this podcast, live and work on stolen Indigenous land from across Turtle Island. So we say land back, no reconciliation without restitution. We need to fight for the self-determination of all Indigenous nations. Season two, what do we mean by season two? First, I think we should recognize that the idea of seasons, completely arbitrary. I think we took a moment and we reflected on where we are with the podcast. We have released 16 episodes since June of last year, we've been steadily increasing our listenership, we've been very, very excited about some of the interviews and discussions we've had. And we're ready to take the next step forward in building this as a community project that is directly connected with the organizing work we want to do. We don't want this to be a podcast as an intellectual siloed project, shouting from the sidelines, we want to be integrated with this in the struggles that we have in the streets, and we want to bring the streets and the struggle to this podcast.

Emily Steers  3:28  
Mm hmm. So on that note, we are going to be setting up a Ko-Fi, where if you have been enjoying our work and enjoying this podcast, and you would like to tip us that would be really amazing. It allows us to keep working on this project and dedicate more time and resources because right now there is absolutely no money involved here. I can — I can assure you of that despite are often very lucrative sponsors. They don't actually ever give us any money.

Daniel Tarade  4:00  
Yeah, it might have something to do with our criticism of their fundamental role in society. I don't know maybe if we sucked up a little bit more. 

Emily Steers  4:07  

Daniel Tarade  4:08  
With crowdfunding, there's often the distinction, Are you going to be providing exclusive content. We decided against that. We personally hate the idea of paywalls. And we want to embody with this project the idea of from each according to their ability, to each according to their need. So if you cannot afford to financially support this project in any way, that's okay. We don't want to withhold any of this information or organizing work from you. That's counterproductive. So if you are in a place where financially you can afford $1 a month, $5 a month, whatever you can afford a month to support this project, then please consider doing so. It's going to go to covering the transcription costs. We provide transcriptions for all new episodes. It's going to go to covering, you know, podcast hosting — that stuff's a bit more boring. But if we develop a reliable financial base, we're going to go into improving and investing in audio equipment for other contributors, and just building the ability for this to be a regular podcast. Currently, it's not super regular, very predictable in terms of release.

Emily Steers  5:17  
Yeah, because we are fairly busy people. And as I say, we do this as volunteer work when we can. And we love doing this work. And we would like to be able to dedicate more time and energy to it. So even if you can only contribute a little bit, it would be immensely appreciated for us to be able to expand on this project a little. And also to know that there are people out there who are really passionate about this project and really care about what we're doing.

Daniel Tarade  5:46  
That's really been the motivation behind taking this next step. I've personally wavered on this because asking for any sort of support, I don't know, I feel like a burden. That's my own personal hurdle to overcome here. But we want this to be integrated into the work we do because this is the project of our lives. Not the podcast, socialist transformation of society. This podcast is one way we want to engage with that. And to that end, even though we're not doing any exclusive content, we're gonna start a Discord where all people can join on if you're a listener, as well, we're gonna invite back all the guests we've had on. We want this to be a place where people can promote their actions, promote these coalition's and alliances, strengthen connections between our different struggles to be able to discuss, debate, share information, and to make this a hub for different radicals organizing within Canada as well as international comrades.

Emily Steers  6:43  
Our mission as Socialist Action is to build up a strong working class that can advocate for itself, build strong coalition's in their communities and fight for socialist transformation in this nation and internationally. That is our underlying goal across the board in every project we do. If you'd like to get involved in that project, or learn more about what you can do to advance the interests of working people and marginalized people around the world, reach out, give us a call, send us an email or join our Discord server to bring us your perspectives and bring us some fresh ideas from your community and your situation.

Daniel Tarade  7:25  
Exactly. We recognize that not one person, not one organization has all the answers. No one is perfect in their understanding of the world. And it's going to be a back-and-forth process. That is one thing that the project of The Red Review allows us to do. And we're so grateful for the opportunity to be able to speak with people like Dr. Jessica Hernandez on Indigenous science, to speak with Theresa Tait-Day, a hereditary chief from Wet'suwet'en, to speak with, you know, really great thinkers like Tamara Lorincz and Yves Engler on Canadian foreign policy, to talk with people like Mackenzie Thomason, leader of the New Brunswick NDP, while he is on strike. These are the conversations we want to bring to you because these are conversations that directly challenge entrenched power in this society. It shares demands that center capitalism and imperialism and colonialism as our common enemy. And in doing so we can connect our struggles, build a united front, and take those steps forward together towards a more just world, towards a world that's built for the many, for the masses, for community, rather than a small number of people, their yachts and their profit. So on that note, welcome to The Winter Review. When we first started this podcast, we wanted to do monthly reviews. That's why we're called The Red Review. We were going to review things every month. And really quickly, we started finding that our style, we're following these trends and movements. And at a certain point, each monthly review had more and more updates about what was happening the previous month. So we decided that we're going to do quarterly or seasonal reviews — there's gonna be a winter review, there's going to be a spring review, there's gonna be a summer review, there's gonna be a fall review. And in between that, we're going to be doing more discussions with community organizers, with historians, with authors, writers, we're going to be doing deeper dives like we did on the convoy. We're not gonna be talking about the convoy this winter review because we already dedicated about two hours of podcast episodes to it. And we're gonna continue doing that going forward.

And this is gonna allow us to review topics with more nuance and detail rather than just talking about things that are making or rather not making headlines. It gives us a chance to do justice to the topics whereas our seasonal reviews are going to be more in the style of political analysis of important events but focusing more on events that maybe you haven't heard anything about.

Yeah, we're gonna try to the best of our ability and this is where we need your help to cover events, actions, struggles at the community level. And Emily and I, we introduce ourselves every month, we're both in Ontario. So this month we're going to talk about Alberta. We're going to talk about Newfoundland. We're going to talk about struggles in the workers movement. We're going to try and cover these very important areas of struggle in our decaying society. And we need your help in that because, well, we're not everywhere. We don't have feelers, we don't have connections in all communities. 

Emily Steers  10:25  
As much as we would love to. 

Daniel Tarade  10:27  
Anything happening in your community, in your union, bring it to us, and we want to highlight, platform, share, discuss, and build around that struggle. Before we dive in, let's do the ad read. For the next six months or so, we will have different voices covering for Comrade Helen, as she provides support for her mother and family. From everybody at The Red Review, we want to send good feelings to Comrade Helen. We appreciate all the work that you've done, and we look forward to having your voice back on the podcast. If you need anything, don't hesitate to ask. This season, we are thrilled to announce that we are not sponsored by DraftKings, Bet99, FanDuel, or any other gambling den. To be able to partner with the lottery, sports betting, or really any pyramidal-shaped get-rich-quick scheme — looking at new and OpenSea — that serves as a tax on poverty and desperation really is a dream come true for us at this podcast. Since sports betting was widely legalized in the US in 2018, Americans bet over $60 billion on sports representing billions of dollars being transferred from the working class and oppressed to the capitalist class. And we can't wait to eagerly shill for an addictive and destructive industry. With a 2021 Canadian Supreme Court ruling expanding sports betting, just like it did in the states, provinces like Alberta and Ontario already made plans to sell out their workers to the vultures that prey on desperation. Remember, you can't win if you don't play or as we like to say, you can't win justice and liberation for working and oppressed people if you don't revolt. So Emily, how are we gonna get started with our winter review? I think we maybe ought to address the elephant in the room. And there's a lot of elephants in the room this winter. What's, what's our first elephant?

Emily Steers  12:26  
I know we said that we weren't gonna really focus on headline news, but we did want to weigh in a little bit on a big ticket headline news item, which is the Liberal-NDP merger. The NDP leader Jagmeet Singh has found a way to avoid federal election, and he has managed to gain a vague promise of healthcare service reforms, which is likely going to come at the cost of huge increases in military spending. The Liberal-NDP deal paves the way for Justin Trudeau to stay in power until 2025, at least, which serves capitalist political stability quite well in this relentless march to climate catastrophe, growing social inequality, and the horrors of inter-imperialist war. It's been so funny watching the Conservatives reply to this. The interim Conservative Party leader Candice Bergen has made the absurd claim that the deal hands the reins of the government to the NDP claiming that Jagmeet Singh is basically Deputy Prime Minister. She, like many of us, seems to be a bit confused about the difference between a coalition and a mere agreement in which no member of the NDP has a cabinet post. Conservative Party leadership frontrunner, Pierre Poilievre has called the Liberal-NDP deal a socialist coalition power pact. God I wish. 

Daniel Tarade  13:44  
I so wish. What was the phrase, backdoor socialism? Please, please sign me up for some backdoor socialism right now.

Emily Steers  13:52  
Wouldn't that be nice? Here's the thing. I will say that has been confusing me. Why not go into a coalition? I do not understand why Canadian politics has this allergy to even the mere suggestion of a coalition. This isn't a coalition. It's known as confidence-and-supply agreement. And so the NDP are going to support the Liberals in upcoming confidence votes, including the next four federal budgets in exchange for very vague statements of good intentions towards NDP-friendly measures. This seems like the NDP is sacrificing everything for very little gain. They are getting means-tested dental care, which is ridiculous. What other medical services do we have that are entirely means tested? And a vague promise of achieving significant carbon emission reductions by 2023, a significant additional investment in Indigenous housing and affordable housing, and exploring ways of expanding access to voting. What does this mean?

Daniel Tarade  14:58  
It's a really good question. What did the NDP really get for this sellout of power and preventing really any political shake up in this country until 2025? Do you know what strikes me about 2025, Emily? for a long time, we've had the year 2030 in our mind. Like that's when we have to really decarbonize to avoid the worst permanent impacts of runaway climate change. 2030, you know, we have 10 years to decarbonize. And all of a sudden, for the first time, I'm hearing 2025. We're gonna get to 2025, and nothing's going to change. That's half of the decade gone. 

Emily Steers  15:34  
That's terrifying. 

Daniel Tarade  15:35  
And it includes very vague language around decarbonisation. The Liberals have already promised to cut emissions by 45% by 2030. Of course, they're not on pace for that at all. Everything they're doing is continuing to prop this up. And the NDP in providing this support, meaning that the NDP are going to vote aye for every liberal budget, that means everything in the budget the NDP is going to support. And while there are some things in this agreement that could help working Canadians, oppressed Canadians, not nearly enough, obviously. Means-tested dental care does not mean nationalizing dental care, it means the government will pay the dentist on your behalf if you qualify. This does nothing to increase supply for people in rural communities and poor communities and Indigenous communities. There's nothing to actually make dental care more equitable. But if you happen to have access to dental care, and your only barrier is financial means and you qualify, which is also a big if, because it's based on household. So if you make more than $90,000 per household, you won't qualify for this. If you make $100,000 as a household in Toronto, I don't actually think that means you're that well off, you're already now excluded from any sort of support here. It's incredibly vague. And the biggest thing as far as the NDP goes, they're a party of labor. They did not make this decision based on what labor needs or by even consulting labor. This was top-down Jagmeet Singh, Justin Trudeau talking, approved by their caucuses without going to convention, without going to the Riding Associations, without going to labor. Everybody that should be a stakeholder in the NDP has been left out of these consultations. And the biggest thing, then, is that this is propping up Canadian military spending for the next three years.

Emily Steers  17:23  
Exactly. Yeah. So three years of stable government might look good when we've been battered by COVID. We had that surprise snap election last year that everyone was annoyed with. And so of course, if everything continues to go south, what we want is stability. Of course, this makes sense, and there has been some public support for it. But realistically, what is this going to accomplish aside from compromising the NDP principles and alienating the NDP base? 

Daniel Tarade  17:55  
Yeah, we know that there's gonna be a big vote coming up in the next budget. It's going to include the second largest ever procurement in Canadian military history. It's about $80 billion for new fighter jets. This means the NDP is going to uncritically support this as part of this deal. Some people get dental care while oppressed nations around the world get bombs, and we're supposed to ignore that part. We lamented during our election coverage, foreign policy is completely ignored during Canadian political debates. The NDP uncritically supports NATO, it supports the Lima group, it supports the Core Group, it supports the five eyes — every military alliance, every spying alliance, the NDP is fully on board. And in the past, they've even criticized the Liberals for not spending enough on the military. I don't get what the NDP gains from this because when this agreement either falls apart, or dissolves, you know, in 2025, how are the NDP going to situate themselves as a better alternative to the Liberals when they've been propping up the Liberals for the last four years?

Emily Steers  18:57  
Yeah, exactly. It's really, really shameful. And I think we need to be putting the pressure on the NDP to justify why they have done this and also demand that they advocate for and act in the best interest of labor and the working class if they want to have more than a snowflakes chance in hell at retaining the most important people in their base.

Daniel Tarade  19:22  
Can I get the math on what the chance is of a snowflake surviving in hell?

Emily Steers  19:26  
Interesting theological dilemma, it would depend on which definition of hell you are using because depending on which one, you might have different outcomes, but regardless, as a metaphor, I think it stands,

Daniel Tarade  19:39  
We're not going to waste too much more time on the NDP here. 

Emily Steers  19:42  
Just express our continuing disappointment for the amount lost versus the amount gained. The NDP has thrown away their power and their autonomy for vague promises that the Liberals won't take sole credit for eventually implementing NDP ideas. 

Daniel Tarade  20:00  
Just like they did with medical care. 

Emily Steers  20:02  
It's just embarrassing. 

Daniel Tarade  20:04  
It's very embarrassing. It's the same thing the Liberals did with Medicare. Even though Tommy Douglas is associated with it today,  he was never leading the federal party in power. He was at most Official Opposition, put pressure on this. But Jagmeet Singh and NDP now is trying to invoke the legacy of Douglas in propping up or celebrating this deal, but it doesn't even accomplish the same extent. Socialized medicare for all is not the same thing as means-tested dental care or a bulk purchasing plan for drugs. None of this erodes corporate power. It makes it more official, and it's a bandaid for some of the people that are falling through the gaps in the current system while still letting many, many, many more people fall through the gaps. And the language of achieving dental care and PharmaCare is dangerous. It promotes acquiescence. It makes a victory out of a concession and thus is meant to take the wind out of our own organizing, but we're not going to do that. We're going to re-up our organizing efforts in the labor movement through the Workers' Action Movement and in the NDP through the NDP Socialist Caucus. We're partisans of the NDP. And yet why are we talking so much mad shit about the NDP? Well, because we're not in the NDP to be cheerleaders. We're in the NDP to organize with workers. And the NDP is the only mass Labour Party in either America or Canada. And so we need to be where the workers are. It doesn't mean where they're uncritically supporting the NDP. We're not cheerleaders — exactly the opposite. And so if you're someone that believes in the idea of a Labour Party, but doesn't agree in the direction the NDP is taking, I invite you to check out the NDP Socialist Caucus, join our group of rabble rousers as we go to convention and we say shame on Horgan, and we say shame on Jagmeet Singh. We're principled in this, join us. 

Emily Steers  21:49  
And speaking of all of these issues that we're experiencing with healthcare, as you say, this really doesn't do anything to address health care inequalities in the provinces. Do you want to talk a little bit more about some of the stuff that's going on in Alberta and Newfoundland?

Daniel Tarade  22:05  
Yeah. First, we talked about the convoy. We already talked about the horrors that the pandemic has wrought on Canadian people, particularly the working people, racialized people, disabled people, elderly people, those are the communities hit the hardest, and it wasn't because of COVID. The point has been made, but we need to continue stressing it. Everything was broken before COVID. COVID exacerbated and exploited all the systemic inequalities in our current system. And you can see that very clearly in Alberta, which to this day, is still suffering with ambulance shortages. We talked a bit about ambulance shortages in Ontario and the GTA in the convoy episode, but we're gonna do a deeper dive into what's been happening in Alberta. This research has been collected by Chris, a member of ours in Alberta. So thanks, Chris, for collecting this. And to start off then, October 2021, the president of the Health Sciences Association of Alberta, Mike Parker, once again had to go to the media to sound an alarm because by October 2021, there had been a 50% increase in calls for emergency services in the previous 12 months, and there's been no increase in staffing and as a result, especially rural Alberta, suffers a complete lack of health coverage. This has been a trend that's been building since the inception of neoliberalism in Canada, particularly in the mid 90s. And this is noted by Sandra Azocar, executive director of this advocacy group called Friends of Medicare, In the mid 90s, Alberta closed half of hospital beds. It used to be 13,000 hospital beds, and it was decreased to 6500. And at that time, the population was less than it is now. Whereas it used to be one hospital bed for every 200 people, it's decreased to one bed for every 500 people. So that's the first big cut. We used to have a better health care system in the 90s than now. As the Alberta government's been taking over control of local municipalities and their health care services in this process of consolidation, they've been slashing the number of ambulances as well. For example, the community of Warner in southern Alberta, the number of ambulances was reduced from five to two when Alberta took over, and the city of Airdrie, located north of Calgary, had a similar cut from five to three. In the same period, you had a 21% increase in ambulance response time and an increase in variability in response time meaning it was more likely that an ambulance would take a very long time to get to you. That's high level cuts that the government's been doing but what does that actually mean then if you're a person living in Alberta, and you have a health emergency and you need an ambulance? 

Emily Steers  24:40  
As an example, the town of Hardisty went without an ambulance for 24 days due to some staffing shortages. Similarly, in the northern communities of Barrhead and Westlock, they experienced a code red on October 5, 2021. A Code Red is there are absolutely no ambulances available. And during the recent holiday season when Omicron was getting underway, ambulances regularly stationed in Bow Valley, which includes the towns of Banff, Canmore and Kananaskis, they spent almost all their time in nearby Calgary, leaving locals completely in the lurch. In 2021, Canmore paramedics responded to more calls outside of the town than to local emergencies.

Daniel Tarade  25:18  
And this is due to the overall ambulance shortages. If bigger centers are using up all their ambulances then the only place you can get more ambulances is calling them in from the local towns that have less priority.

Emily Steers  25:30  
So while ambulances meant to serve smaller towns get diverted into larger cities, no person living in Alberta is now guaranteed expedient health care. Even in Calgary, the largest city in Alberta, saw 426 red alerts in the years between April 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021, which is 82 and a half hours when there were no ambulances available. Two years earlier, there were only 217 red alerts in Calgary, which totaled up to 13 hours, which just highlights how quickly this public health crisis is spiraling out of control.

Daniel Tarade  26:09  
It was actually first in the news before the pandemic, which again stresses the point — the system was broken before the pandemic, the pandemic made it into a disaster or a bigger disaster. So in 2019, when this came out, the provincial NDP led by Rachel Notley kind of highlighted, yeah, we've had decades of austerity and budget cuts, and this is bad. Yet the solution was not great that she proposed and it never came to pass either, because there's very little mobilization to win these demands. Really the NDP whenever they're the opposition party seems to focus more on posturing and scoring cheap political points from the sideline. It reminds me of Andrea Horwath, and the Ontario NDP constantly bringing bills to Parliament, Provincial Parliament for paid sick days. And the Ford government just kept voting it down because they had the majority. And then the NDP would go to the media every time saying they don't want paid sick days, like Yeah, we knew that the first 20 times, maybe you should try a different approach and actually mobilize workers to win what they actually need. But again, the same thing, Rachel Notley's plan was to hire and post emergency professionals in emergency rooms, who could care for individuals waiting for admission. The reason why that was proposed is currently if you're a paramedic, when you bring someone to the hospital, you have to wait with them until they get a bed. And because of all those hospital bed cuts, paramedics are waiting longer before they can get back out to respond to other calls. So it's a band aid solution. The union representing these workers called it a short-term solution at best. And that short-term solution never even came to pass. Now, the crisis really peaked during the recent holiday season with Omicron. We saw red alerts all over the province, in big cities and small towns. And so Jason Kenney, leader of the United conservative party in power in Alberta, finally addressed the problem on January 24, 2022. And they announced a new advisory committee, which again, wonderful we have this huge problem, what's the solution — 

Emily Steers  28:05  

Daniel Tarade  28:07  
The Committee will fix the problem. They had 10 points on this committee, which the more points you have for the committee to address, the better it is. The issue is, and the NDP can point this out as well while doing nothing really to address it, there's no timeline, there's no accountability, there's no transparency, there are no targets. There's basically nothing that is making this a binding thing. It's just a way of trying to lower the heat on the government right now, especially because it's going to be an election soon in Alberta. The Alberta NDP for their part does not advocate for increasing the funding needed. And some stuff in this 10-point plan actually is quite insidious. For example, they're wanting to institute non-ambulance patient transfers, which is another backdoor way of privatizing the healthcare system. Instead of funding so there's enough ambulances, you start contracting out certain work that ambulances would do to non-public institutions. There's a crisis happening, and the immediate response is, how do we exploit this crisis for profit.

Emily Steers  29:07  
Even though this has been in the news, and there's a lot of attention on it, even the data on red alerts and how many red alerts there are and for how long is not publicly tracked, but it's done by the workers themselves. So what data is missing? Well, we don't know what communities are most affected by these shortages. And by that, I mean not only townships and rural communities, but also what populations. Which populations are being most neglected and most impacted? What health care outcomes has this led to? Has there been an increase in patient deaths? Has there been an increase in home deaths because ambulances weren't able to get to people? There is so much data missing that we really need to call on labor and the unions that represent EMS workers, we need to call on them to push for this data to be tracked and communities to track the data so that we can mobilize and push and agitate surrounding this issue because data is one of our biggest tools in promoting the seriousness of the issue and advocating for meaningful, impactful, directed change that will meaningfully support the communities that are most affected by this.

Daniel Tarade  30:22  
For example, are racialized neighborhoods in Calgary, Edmonton and other towns, are they more likely to call 911 and not have an ambulance dispatched? are Indigenous communities that are so underfunded, so underserved, are they more likely to call 911 or ask for assistance in any way and not have that available to them? We don't know. The data doesn't exist. We're trying to do some of the investigative work or emailing and connecting with different workers and unions to try and see what data is out there. Chris, who compiled this, is a member of emergency response is kind of integrated in this. So if you have any insight into this, even if it's personal anecdote, experience, let us know email us at redreview[at] or on the discord, and let's talk about this. This idea of data is really stressed by Nora Loreto in her recent book Spin Doctors. During the pandemic, we've really seen a blackout on workers dying at work because of COVID or workers dying due to COVID they got work. We've seen a lack of centralized data repositories on long-term deaths. Now, we shouldn't need this data to advocate for ourselves. But the system, stacked against us as it is, often requires that we have facts to back up what we all know is true — that certain communities are being incredibly underserved, neglected, and abandoned. And so while we transform society, we also need to do the work ourselves to advocate for our own communities.

Julian  31:59  
In March, we remember the Northwest Rebellion, which took place a century and a half ago in what is now Saskatchewan and Alberta. This was the second rebellion led by Louis Riel, who had returned from exile in the United States upon the request of various Métis and First Nation leaders to defend their land and language from encroachment by the Canadian state. To this day, the official narrative is that Louis Riel was a violent, religious fanatic who led a foolish if noble resistance, and though after his time in exile, United States, Riel presented himself as a messianic figure, we must not forget that he was fighting to defend the treaty rights of Métis and First Nations in the unincorporated prairies, which had been violated several times before by the Canadian government. The defeat of Louie Riel and the eight brutal hangings which followed marked a terrible omen for both Anglo-French and settler-First Nation relations to come. To this day in front of the Ontario legislature, there sits a monument to the Canadian militiamen who died crushing this rebellion with no mention of either Louie Riel or the Métis and that is a true Canadian Heritage moment.

Emily Steers  32:53  
So jumping across to another province, which is facing massive shortages in health care funding, Newfoundland and Labrador. Folks out east are facing another round of cruel and needless austerity as premier Andrew Furey and his recovery team, who are led by the privatization pioneer Moya green, are keen on defunding and selling off as much of the province as they possibly can even going so far as to hire Rothschild and company to assess the provinces finances and assets. Chief targets for them right now are the provincially-held oil and gas assets held by nalcor energy, the provincial registries, which is everything from motor registration to registries for companies and private properties, healthcare and the NLC, the Newfoundland liquor Corporation, which is a Crown Corporation, and also education both K12 and crown post-secondary institutions such as Memorial University, which really leaves very few public institutions intact. With respect to the contract itself, it is being written and executed in two parts. Part one, we'll see the assessment and valuation of the assets of the province with part two, which is the more aggressively capitalist section of the contract, we'll see Rothschild and company taking up the task of marketing these assets to be sold off to private owners and negotiating this sale. For the duration of part one, Rothschild and company will be paid $500,000 a month with a bonus of $2 million upon completion. And as for part two, the part of the contract has been completely redacted. Two entire pages of the contract is being kept from the public by its own government. 

Daniel Tarade  34:36  
What does that mean? 

Emily Steers  34:37  
What the hell does that mean? 

Daniel Tarade  34:38  
We're only left to speculate, but I think it's probably a surprise birthday party they're planning for all citizens in Newfoundland.

Emily Steers  34:46  
But it's just like if they're willing to openly disclose to the public that they are being paid half a million dollars a month in order to market public institutions to private companies for the sale and parceling off, if that's what they're willing to admit to the public, what are they keeping locked away?

Daniel Tarade  35:06  
So this research came to us from Victor, a comrade of ours in Newfoundland, member of Socialist Action. His speculation is that Rothschild and company will reserve a percentage of the sale. While it is purely speculation, these conditions are very common when companies do broker work of this kind. So in this case, Rothschild and company would stand directly to profit from the death and destruction and decay of the provinces public services. And this contract also explicitly states that payments that Rothschild and company receives cannot be reduced by any means, they're free from all taxes and fees. Any reduction incurred on these payments is to be subsidized by the public. The province is contracted to repay Rothschild and company on any losses on these payments, is liable for any legal fees incurred in the entire process. So if you sue Rotschild and company for any reason because of what they're doing, and you win, then the public pays that. 

Emily Steers  36:02  
Oh my God. 

Daniel Tarade  36:03  
All court-related costs, transportation, shelter, food expenditures, counseling for employees, and any other expenses which may arise while working for the province, all that's covered by the province and public money, which means by the time this is all done, the employees of Rothschild and company may get more public funding to support them than any other worker in Newfoundland. 

Emily Steers  36:23  
Well, and also imagine what all of that money could do if it were actually invested in the services that are needed. Because none of this is included in the half a million dollars a month the province is already paying. And all of this is exclusive to its own circumstance. Make no mistake, this is a terrible deal. A truly, truly egregious sellout of public interest for a corporation that does not have Newfoundlanders interest at heart. What they're basically doing is they're selling the car to pay for the gas.

Daniel Tarade  37:01  
Yeah, they're just kicking the can down the road. You can see the situation where this government when this bites them, it doesn't matter. They already accomplished what they set out to accomplish. They will get their kickbacks. They will live comfortably, regardless of how disastrously this turns out for the rest of the province and the masses of people in the province. For example, they're looking to sell off Nalcor Energy, which controls about 5% of the total oil and gas resources as Crown resources. The rest of the oil and gas is already privatized. But in selling this off, they might also be selling off Muskrat Falls, which is the biggest hydroelectric project the province has ever had because that's also controlled by Nalcor. We're seeing a complete gutting of everything. And one other thing that Victor highlighted this overall profit above all else strategy, we saw that with the failure or the eventual failure of the Newfoundland bubble. Newfoundland did really well with COVID, especially in the beginning. A lot of the Atlantic provinces did. When there were only five to 10 active cases for months, they saw $100 million in funding for protective equipment and for measures dealing with COVID cases. And why did they get that money when they're so few cases? Because they were already planning on reducing and removing all the pandemic restrictions and dissolving the bubble to increase tourism. Victor, the author of this research, highlights he had four family members die of COVID following the waves that predictably swelled up when the province was reopened for the benefit of businesses not the people.

Emily Steers  38:30  
As he writes here, I think it would do justice to just read what he's written. I lost four members of my family. These people had children and grandchildren, wives who loved them, and now the only place they can visit them as a graveyard. My loved ones died needlessly and would likely still be here today were it not for the special exemptions given to turn-around workers and the lifting of the Atlantic bubble. All our leaders would have had to do to save their lives was to say no to putting profit before people.

It actually is that simple. It sounds complicated, and the organizing that it requires to put people before profit is immense. I can't sugarcoat that. But it really does come down to profit over people — bad. People over profit — good. The math is simple. How we get there is difficult. And that's what we want to navigate with everybody that we can.

And Victor, I'm so sorry. That's so heartbreaking and so utterly needless. There has been so much needless death and needless suffering throughout this pandemic as our leaders have failed us on every possible level. As many of you know, one of the first major outbreaks of COVID-19 in Canada was in April of 2020 when a COVID-19 outbreak was declared at the Cargill meatpacking plant in High River, Alberta. So this plant is one of the largest in Canada, which processes almost 40% of all Canadian beef. However, even with the vast amount of income that comes with the massive scale of Cargill, they completely ignored the repeated warnings that were given to them by public health and union officials. Knowingly, they placed their workers in harm's way by keeping the plant open throughout the outbreak without providing adequate PPE. So this dangerous negligence resulted in the largest workplace outbreak of COVID-19 in North America with almost half of the 2000 workers at Cargill being infected with COVID 19 at a time when we knew very little about the disease and nothing about how to treat it. There are two workers who died at the plant due to COVID-19, Benito Quesada and Hiep Bui as well as a parent of one of the workers who passed away due to COVID-19 passed on by their child. Quesada'sdeath would later lead a criminal investigation which is being launched against Cargill for criminal negligence. How did it come to this? So Marichu Antonio from Action Dignity said that 70% of the workers at Cargill are Filipino. There are also lots of people from Mexican, Chinese, and Vietnamese descent working at the plant. All three of the COVID-19 deaths connected to Cargill involved migrant workers, a group that is well over-represented at Alberta and Ontario meatpacking plants. Two thirds of the workers at the plant are considered immigrants compared to just over a quarter of the provinces population and resettled refugees make up 18% of workers despite only representing 3% of the Albertan population. So more than a year after the beginning of this outbreak, the Cargill workers contract represented by UFCW, the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 401, that would be up for negotiation. So with Cargill increasing profits alongside poor working conditions and the aforementioned COVID-19 outbreak, tensions between the employees and Cargill were understandably at an all time high and workers were expecting big gains in their new contract. However, talks were stalling and with a 97% majority vote, Cargill workers voted on November the 10th to go on strike. Legally though they wouldn't be able to go on strike until December the sixth. Pre-empting the strike, the company issued a lockout on the 25th of November that came into effect on December 6 if a deal was not reached. In preparation for the strike, Cargill began a massive advertising push to hire scabs to replace the unionized workers, but the employers were not the only side that were making preparations. According to the UFCW local 401, they prepared around the clock for a potential strike. Tents were erected in front of the plant, floodlights and propane heaters were brought in, and nearby fields were leveled so that hundreds of workers could park, and a picketing payroll system was in finalisation. Union representatives from across the country booked flights to get to High River. However, two days before the strike was about to begin, Cargill caved to the worker's and union's demands. We love to see it. So signing a new contract made unprecedented gains in worker's rights, including a 21% wage increase over the next six years, large increases in bonuses for workers, better health care benefits, as well as, quote provisions to facilitate a new culture of health, safety, dignity and respect in the workplace. According to workers involved in the negotiating process, this contract was a huge improvement on the previous offer, which in part could be granted due to the pressure put on the company by the unions and the massive threat of the strike. I want to congratulate UFCW Local 401 by showing us all the gains that can be made and the powers that workers can have when we are united and mobilized and passionate about our cause.

Daniel Tarade  43:45  
What this push really showed is that the suffering workers endured under the pandemic, it didn't need to be like that. It didn't need to be that workers had to suffer so much. And workers deserve compensation for the risk that they took on, for the infections they endured, for the PPE they had to pay out of pocket, for all the misery they endured, all of that needs to be compensated appropriately. Because Cargill made record profits! They benefited during the pandemic. They advocated, they fought to be declared as essential even though most of the meat is exported. They fought to be essential so that they can maintain production at full capacity, no distancing, no reduction in capacity, no lodging for workers so they can isolate from their families. They did nothing to protect their workers. And before those deaths began to happen, the company brought all the workers into a mandatory meeting. They didn't let union representatives in and they basically said it's totally safe to go back to work. And within weeks, three people had died. 1000s of people infected. We don't even know how many people are still dealing with disability due to this first round of infections. What we do know it would have been worse without the union and that the struggle of workers for a modicum of justice coming out of the pandemic hopefully signals a greater, more unified struggle going forward. Because all workers deserve representation. All workers deserve the rights afforded to workers. All workers deserve safe work. They deserve dignity in their work. They deserve a say in their work.

Emily Steers  45:22  
Nonetheless, I do want to highlight that we are not solely champions of UFCW but we are critics as well.

Daniel Tarade  45:32  
While UFCW 401 represented their workers as workers and was fully on the side of the workers, there is this contentious designation in neoliberal economies around the world, that of the gig worker where despite the name gig worker, you're not a worker, not according to the contract you sign with your employer, which instead lists you as an independent contractor. Who does this apply to? Well, most notably it applies to Uber, different food couriers, previously Foodora in Canada, all of those people doing so much important, at times frontline, work during this pandemic do not even get classified as workers. How is that possible? Well, it's the loophole that these companies are exploiting to not have to provide benefits or any other protections that normally would be guaranteed for all workers in Canada. That's why the news these past months that Uber signed a deal with the United Food and Commercial Workers of Canada, which represents a total of 250,000 workers, that deal with such a big deal. What it allowed was Uber drivers or couriers to request representation if their account was deactivated by the company. So this was not a unionization. This was a deal that allowed UFCW to represent Uber workers if they had certain grievances with their employers without ever changing their designation to be that of a worker. This is a concession to the mounting pressure from gig workers who have been previously and continue to be organizing under Gig Workers United. Gig Workers United is the union that took on the Foodora unionization push a few years back, before the pandemic, that won legally the precedent in Canada that gig workers can unionize. And the success of Fedora gig workers to win their unionization drive, with the Canadian Union of Postal Workers as their sponsor, immediately led Foodora to exit the country because their entire business model is based on exploiting workers to the point that they're not even considered workers. That is not what this deal is today.

Emily Steers  47:43  
So while Uber does still classify their workers as independent contractors, this deal does mean that they are forced to create and administer a self-directed benefit fund for prescriptions, dental, and vision care, RRSPs and tuition. However, as we say, it's still not union representation. The quote from Jim Stanford, who's the director of the Center for Future Work said Uber is looking for allies in a strong lobbying effort to create a customized labor law that fits its business model. Uber is worried that courts and labor boards are going to find that their workers are actually entitled to regular things like a minimum wage. And for Uber, it's been a huge coup to have a union supporting this effort to create its new flexible work idea. So this move comes during a major push by gig workers to organize themselves. So like all gig workers, Uber drivers and couriers, as we said they're classified as independent contractors, which means they don't have any protections guaranteed by Canadian law, such as protection from workplace harassment and abuse. And account deactivation, which was the issue that precipitated this in the first place and the issue that UFCW is going to be representing, this is a common issue for Uber drivers. If a customer complains that a driver didn't meet their demands, such as refusing to speed as one example given, drivers can have their accounts unilaterally deactivated preventing them from working. So gig workers demand classification as employees rather than as independent contractors so that they can receive these legally designated protections.

Daniel Tarade  49:19  
So Gig Workers United, that great union that grew from a grassroots effort, like in Toronto, if you're there during the Foodora unionization push, you saw their signs everywhere, they did great community-oriented organizing, where they would offer bike repair seminars, and barbecues, and they would do bike races, and they would just talk with each other when they're stopped at stoplights. You know, how are your tips today? And they were able to connect on their common grievances. And despite the fact that by design, these independent contractors are kept from each other at arm's length, they came together, they had an overwhelming vote yes, we want a union. And like I mentioned then, Foodora completely collapsed in the country, but they're still organizing, they're still struggling, and they're incredibly disappointed that the couriers themselves were not consulted when this deal was made. This was a deal made not between workers and their employer, but between a Union led by their bureaucrats and a private company to benefit each of them. So lawyer Samara Belitzky, who represents a class-action fighting for gig workers to be recognized as employees, doesn't believe this deal will provide much benefit at all. And correctly, she points out a big conflict of interest. The cost of representing Uber workers in disputes is going to be split evenly by Uber and UFCW. That means Uber is in theory paying for the representation of workers against it in grievances, which really, really ought to worry any worker about what kind of representation they will actually be getting. And as a sign, or maybe it's an omen of how this might go, after signing this deal. UFCW removed all criticism of Uber and its abuse of workers from their website. 

Emily Steers  51:03  
To quote Brice Sopher, who's a representative for Gig Workers United, This is just the illusion of a union. This is the illusion of workers representation, but it's not. It gives Uber more protection, the veneer of being progressive, while they will continue to push for the regressive rolling back of worker's rights.

Daniel Tarade  51:20  
But in positive labor news — 

Emily Steers  51:21  
Yes, in very exciting labor news, our comrade and fellow organizer Julius Arscott has won his reelection bid to the executive board of OPSEU, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, which is very, very exciting. He's consistently advocated for stronger employee protections and better employee conditions throughout the pandemic and before. He is an absolute superstar of working-class advocacy and labor leadership. And we need more leadership like Julius. So congratulations, Julius. And we are so so proud of you and so excited for the amazing work that you will get to continue to do on the executive board of OPSEU.

Daniel Tarade  52:06  
What we need is for everybody that is in a union to really engage at their local level, get to know your steward, become a steward if you can, and begin those conversations with your coworker. Because we need this to build from the bottom up. What we've seen for many, many years is this top down unionism, where UFCW can get away with making a deal with Uber without even consulting workers or any really of its own members on whether or not this deal is good enough, or even in the benefit of the vast majority of workers. So Julius is openly a revolutionary socialist who talks about class independence and talks about the evils of capitalism and corporations and the need for worker control. And that builds up from the bottom. If you're interested in this organizing work, if you want to connect with us in this organizing work, I encourage you to check out the Workers' Action Movement. We're a militant class-independent labor movement that seeks to win over the masses of workers, unionized and non-unionized, to the revolutionary banner and the struggle for workers' control of our own places of work. As we transition into international coverage, we will start with recognizing that March 30th is Land Day — Palestinian Land Day. This year is the 46th anniversary of a Palestinian uprising triggered by the Israeli government's plan to expropriate even more land from the Palestinians. And in the ensuing confrontation with Israeli army and police, six unarmed Palestinians were killed. They are martyrs. At a rally in Toronto recently commemorating Land Day and forwarding the struggle of Palestinians against genocide, apartheid, and colonization, I recorded a poem by Ahmed, an organizer with the Palestine Youth Movement, who gave me permission to share that poem on the podcast.

Ahmed  53:59  
I like to say a few words. You know, speeches are boring, they;re too long. But I'd like to say a few words hopefully we can actually learn something, hopefully we can listen, hopefully we can do something with this information. So actually, big, big round of applause for every single one of you guys actually giving us the time, for actually being here, for actually still standing up with Palestine. There is more than 12 people that were murdered in the past like week. This is literally the calm before the storm, guys. This is Ramadan. Stay vigilant. Stay alert, keep your eyes open. And do your role being the international voice. We are the international voice here in Canada. We have to take advantage of this. Here's a few words to talk about Land Day. We're here to talk about the land. We're back again. We're back again and we never left. We're back again to defy the theft. We're back again for this day of land and we're back again to make a stand. We're back again until the dream is a reality. We're back again to expose the duality, the duality injustice, the double standards, the lies, the hypocrisy in the system that you don't disguise, wearing the mask of justice yet supporting apartheid, wearing the mask of justice yet watch Liberty die. You stand with Ukraine just on the other side. You watch bombs get dropped and allow babies to die, turning a blind eye, let that one slide. No one will notice. Well guess what? You can't hide. But right here, outside inside the lecture halls nationwide, online offline. We're a landslide from your blind side. And best believe we'll never be silent on this genocide. For years we've been protesting since 1976. And we know we ain't resting. And while you sit in Parliament, debating and protesting, sending cops on us, silencing, arresting, we'll continue to fight, continue investing in our youth and in good people. And again, we ain't resting, on the streets and on the shelves, boycotting, divesting. Shout out to the BDS movement, apartheid food we ain't digesting. Shame on the government for supporting this affliction. Shame for considering the JNF a charity, a filthy contradiction. 89 destroyed villages under bloodied hands. You're complicit and silent while they're evil expands. Let me ask you this. Is Palestine so different to Ukraine? Invasion of land, oppressions. Aren't you one and the same? Is our blood lighter than theirs? Do we not feel fear or pain? Do you think you're not responsible? Or free from blame? Do you think all our efforts will be in vain, that we won't fight for our land that we won't remain? Do you see our progress, what we overcame? Well let me reassure you, we will be back. And we will put them all to shame, and we will be standing there proudly stating we're back again.

Crowd  57:15  
Free free Palestine! Free free Palestine! From the River to the sea, Palestine will be free!

Emily Steers  57:42  
Let's zoom out a little bit now and talk about international events of the past few months. So of course, we need to talk about the situation in Ukraine. We will not be doing any in-depth analysis of the situation in Ukraine because well, the world doesn't need more people who are not involved in the situation to weigh in with their hot takes. So we want to give our perspective from people in the Imperial core in a nation who is a member of NATO.

Daniel Tarade  58:15  
Yeah, absolutely. And what we're drawing on here is less an analysis of what's happening currently in Ukraine but from our principles as anti-war, anti-imperialist organizers because these principles still apply to the current situation regardless of what the mass media wants to make out to be a uniquely evil catastrophic situation.

Emily Steers  58:37  
As socialists we oppose all wars but the class war. Workers and the poor, women and children and other marginalized people are always the first and foremost victims of war, while the tiny rich minority profit from the woes it inflicts on the vast majority. The current conflict in Ukraine shows this again. It stems in part from the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO, led by Washington, London, Paris, Ottawa and their other imperialist allies. This unfolding tragedy must be halted by mass protest actions and people's rebellions in every country, along with the construction of a broad, democratic, anti-war movement. These are the key tasks for those of us in the imperial core at this moment.

Daniel Tarade  59:21  
Yes, we must always remember that our enemy is at home. When we talk about the workers at Cargill, when we talk about Uber and other gig workers, when we talk about the gutting of public health, none of this is Russia. It's our own ruling class here, and they're the primary vehicle and instrument of our misery. None of this is an absolution or support for Russia. 

Emily Steers  59:46  
God hell no. 

Daniel Tarade  59:47  
But we instead choose consciously to redirect the conversation towards what we are obliged to do in our own nation.

Emily Steers  59:56  
As the situation continues to unfold and more understanding and complexity is brought out, we will continue to come back to this topic. Our demands are; No to war in Ukraine; We want NATO out of Eastern Europe and Canada out of NATO; No sanctions should be brought against the Russian people, instead, we advocate for diplomatic solutions; No military intervention by Russia and support for all of those on the ground in Russia who are standing up and resisting this unjust military occupation; we want to stop the US weapons supplies to Kiev; and advocate for the self-determination for Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The enemy is at home, and we must continue in building a united front anti-war coalition. As a young person who hasn't seen this kind of conflict in Europe before, it's been kind of horrifying watching the media coverage of this conflict and the immense difference. I have never seen an international response like the one in Ukraine. To be clear, I am so heartened by it, like seeing the immense outpouring of resources and support for people fleeing conflict is amazing. And it should be our response to every crisis of this kind, this outpouring of sympathy and kindness and compassion. It shows us what we are capable of and shows us the humanity we are capable of. But more than anything, and this is the thing that has been breaking my heart, it shows us whose humanity gets denied. And nowhere is this more evident then in the conflict in the Middle East, particularly regarding the Saudi Arabian-led invasion of Yemen. So this is just days after the seven-year anniversary of the Saudi-led war on Yemen. So on March 27, Yemeni Community Canada, Labour Against the Arms Trade, and the World Beyond War have organized a demonstration to spotlight Canada's unwavering support for the brutal invasion of Yemen. They held the rally outside of Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland's constituency office and anti-war organizers have highlighted the Canadian hypocrisy in describing Putin as swinging a quote, Sledgehammer against the rules-based international order on one hand, while selling $10 billion dollars in arms to Saudi Arabia and propping up another illegal invasion of a sovereign democracy. The hypocrisy is truly astonishing. So as we say, march 26, 2022, has marked seven years of brutal war in Yemen. A war that has killed over a quarter of a million people and displaced over 4 million people, and 70% of the population, including 11.3 million children, are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance. The Saudi-led coalition has bombed Yemeni markets, hospitals and civilians and repeated ceasefire violations have meant that humanitarian assistance is very, very difficult to mobilize and connect to the civilians who need it. Meanwhile, Canada profits from this brutal invasion. We as a nation have sold billions of dollars worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia in direct violation of international law. A 2021 report from Amnesty International and Project Ploughshares has highlighted that the dealing of weapons to Saudi Arabia, Canada has failed to abide by its legal obligations under the Arms Trade Treaty it signed in 2019 because there is clear evidence that Saudi Arabia is violating international human rights law. Between 2016 and 2019, Canada exported nearly 5000 rifles to Saudi Arabia, with the vast majority being sniper rifles manufactured by PGW Defense Technologies inc. in Winnipeg, Manitoba. But the biggest point of contention and the one that has received the most media attention is the $14 billion light armored vehicle deal manufactured by General Dynamics Land Systems in London, Ontario, which supports about 3000 jobs. This is the major point of contention. Canada doesn't want to relinquish the income that is generated from these weapons sales. And of course, they don't want to lose the support of the people whose livelihoods depend on these kinds of manufacturing and in opposing arms exports to Saudi Arabia, the Canadian Labour Congress, which is the largest labor group in the country, has called for public investment in a rapid transition to peaceful green jobs that protects workers and their communities and the rest of the planet. This is the fundamental tenet of Labour Against the Arms Trade is that those 3000 jobs that rely on the export of weapons of war, those jobs are important. These are skilled workers who have needed knowledge, needed abilities, and needed resources, but they could be innovating electric vehicles, they could be creating fleets of electric vehicles for consumer and public use, like mail delivery trucks for the Canadian postal service. We could be changing our transportation networks to be less reliant on fossil fuels, we could be at the forefront of innovation in peaceful, environmentally-friendly, green technologies. But instead, all of this labor, all of this expertise, all of this skill is being diverted to how can we more creatively and more efficiently kill as many people as possible. How is this a good use of our time and energy?

Daniel Tarade  1:05:37  
It's disgusting. It highlights the contradiction between profit and human need. Because while Canada and the Prime Minister want to defend this deal by referencing workers, the Canadian Labour Congress, Labour Against the Arms Trade makes it very clear that no, workers aren't signing on to this. At the rally I went to, Labour Against the Arms Trade, they've done actions outside of that plant. They've talked directly to the workers. And they've asked, if you could get the same job security, same pay, but instead of producing weapons of war, you're producing vehicles for postal work, for for municipal use, would you be opposed to that? And no, no one says, Yeah, I like this job specifically because I'm making light armored vehicles to kill Yemeni children. No one is specifically endorsing that. People need jobs, people need security. And if given the choice, workers want to do work that helps their community. So this reference to jobs is a bit of a dog whistle. It's meant to distract from the fact that Canada willingly and enthusiastically is an ally to the Saudi Arabian regime, one that is very oppressive in that region. 

Emily Steers  1:06:46  
And it makes it absolutely transparent that NATO's concern over Ukraine — you know, absolutely, it is a humanitarian crisis of massive proportions. It is entirely unjust, and the Ukrainian people are needlessly suffering because of Putin's expansionist ambitions. This should be decried and condemned internationally. That is not for debate. What is the point of contention is why this conflict is of such concern to the international community, while Saudi Arabia's conflict in Yemen is not. Because if we are looking at it purely from a humanitarian perspective, there is no difference — a powerful wealthy nation has invaded one of its poor neighbors.

Daniel Tarade  1:07:33  
The main strategy then is to try and minimize coverage of what's happening in Yemen, and to put distance between it. But Canada, we import more oil from Saudi Arabia than we export weapons to them. We're trade partners, we are allies with them. At times, the excuse was, well, the contract for the light armored vehicles was signed by Harper and we can't break that contract,

Emily Steers  1:07:54  
Like we haven't broken other contracts. 

Daniel Tarade  1:07:57  
All these are excuses. We are willingly, enthusiastically engaging with Saudi Arabia because they're allies, and they can give us oil. Russia is not an ally. Russia is not opening up its economy to our corporations for investment, they're not letting us dominate or have a say in how their resources are managed. So the aggression that Russia shows towards its neighbors gets used as an excuse for NATO to be able to justify further presence in that region. And all you need to do is compare Ukraine and Yemen to see that blatant hypocrisy and to find out underlying everything, what the motivations are.

Emily Steers  1:08:33  
And the other thing I want to really highlight is, of course, the response to refugees. And we'll we'll talk more about this as the situation develops, but more than anything, as we build anti-war coalitions, as we take up our stance against all war, against all intervention, we need to keep in mind equity in the treatment of refugees. How many people have needlessly died while seeking shelter and seeking safety and who are now watching as Ukrainians are welcomed into Western Europe with open arms. It's absolutely shameful because as I say, it shows that we have been able to do this the entire time. We could have done this at any point and we just haven't. And when we start to deny people their humanity based on their race, their ethnicities, their origins, their religion, their political status as pieces of this ever-evolving 3D chess game that is international relations in the time of neoliberal capitalism, we need to put humanity first and that is what we as socialists strive to do. So push for refugee equity, push for equitable policies about migration, about refugee resettlement, about resources being allocated to people and push your neighbors to see people with more compassion. more humility, and more grace.

Daniel Tarade  1:10:03  
As we're coming up on the end here, we're going to play some recordings from the rally outside of Christian Freeland's constituency office, where we all let her know exactly how we feel about Canada arming the Saudi Arabian regime in its invasion, brutal invasion of Yemen.

Unknown Speaker  1:10:19  
Shame shame Saudi Arabia, shame shame Saudi Arabia, shame, shame Saudi Arabia. Stop killing Yemeni children, stop killing Yemeni children, stop killing Yemeni children, stop killing Yemeni children. Shame shame Justin Trudea, shame shame Justin Trudeau. Shame shame Justin Trudea, shame shame Justin Trudeau. Stop arming Saudi Arabia, stop arming Saudi Arabia. Stop arming Saudi Arabia, stop arming Saudi Arabia. Shame shame Justin Trudeau, shame shame Justin Trudeau. Shame shame Chrystia Freeland, shame shame Chrystia Freeland. Stop arming Saudi Arabia, stop arming Saudi Arabia.

Daniel Tarade  1:11:11  
The last thing we want to talk about in terms of policy discussion, we want to tease an upcoming in-depth episode on the Belt-and-Road initiative that China is leading in the world. What prompted this is a recent deal that China has struck with Cuba. So on Christmas Day, 2021, Cuba and China signed an agreement which clarified the projects for China and Cuba under the Belt-and-Road Initiative, which includes infrastructure, technology, culture, education, tourism, energy, communications, and biotechnology. In October of 2021, Cuba became a member of the BRI Belt-and-Road Initiative energy partnership. This partnership network has now 32 members and aims to promote energy cooperation between countries in the Belt-and-Road Initiative as countries pursue a low-carbon transition. For Cuba, this means aiming for 24% of its electrical supply coming from renewable energy by 2030. So this deal that was signed on Christmas, it is a cooperation deal meant to implement the Memorandum of Understanding signed when Cuba first joined the Belt-and-Road Initiative in 2018. So this is now laying out the groundwork and the plan going forward for how they're going to work together as part of this initiative. And this isn't really anything new. Since 2017, China has been Cuba's largest trading partner. And so far, Chinese support seems like a welcome break with the status quo of devastating American sanctions and blockade on the small Caribbean country. For example, in 2011, China canceled $6 billion American dollars worth of Cuban debt. And this past August, they also donated medical supplies to Cuba that was dealing with a swell in COVID-19 cases, which was exacerbated by a syringe shortage due to the US blockade. So even though Cuba developed its own publicly-funded vaccines, something Canada even failed to do, it couldn't trade freely with countries to get the syringes needed to get those vaccines into people. So China's also helped there. Now the framing of the Belt-and-Road Initiative commonly, especially in Western media, has been that it's a debt trap, that this is a sneaky ploy that China pulls on poor and desperate countries where they take on loans that they can never repay, and the infrastructure funded by these loans will eventually be taken over by China. And this is Chinese imperialism. As opposed to America which uses military mites to invade countries and overthrow their governments, China is employing some sort of economic imperialism through the use of the Belt-and-Road Initiative. We're going to explore that narrative by comparing the Belt-and-Road Initiative to other international financial institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. We're going to look at examples of the Belt-and-Road in different countries, how it's played out, as well as the often ignored debt trap that's perpetrated by the Americans, such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. We're going to look at the limitations of this and what it means for a world that's becoming increasingly multipolar. After the Soviet Union collapsed, America was the clear hegemon on the global landscape. It was America first and foremost, and all of its allies, whether it be NATO and all these international financial institutions. China more and more, particularly since the 2008 recession, China has been taking on a bigger role in the world and has become a pole, particularly for a lot of oppressed nations who want to escape the American debt trap. So we'll talk about that, we're going to have on some guests, and we really hope you enjoy it.

Emily Steers  1:14:45  
I'm really excited. I have been really curious about the Belt-and-Road initiative for a long time, and there's so much media coverage that talks about it in really disparaging ways. So I'm really really curious to see like what are the purported advantages, what are the downsides? What are all of the considerations that are driving different countries to get involved in the BRI as opposed to seeking funding or support from the IMF? I'm really excited to explore this topic in more depth, so come hang out with us next month as we get into these issues in more detail.

Daniel Tarade  1:15:18  
The Cold War has never really ended. It kind of shifted from the Soviets to China and understanding the Belt-and-Road initiative, whatever conclusion we come to, no spoiler alerts, it's gonna be very important for people to navigate the mainstream media coverage of China, which is very clearly determined to demonize China.

Emily Steers  1:15:38  
We love critical analysis and data literacy. As we conclude today, we wanted to take a moment to commemorate the passing of a beloved comrade Robin Mahood, who's one of our organizers based in Montreal. Robbie was an exceptional human being and an exceptional comrade. He was a physician throughout his life and always made sure to marry his commitment to his politics with his work. He always sought justice and equity for his patients. And he was one of the key figures involved in the Morgentaller fight, which brought the legal right to abortion into Canadian law. All of us across this country owe Robbie an incredible debt for his tireless advocacy and his incredible work in supporting the working class and the interests of marginalized people throughout his life and his work. Robbie passed away on December 26, 2021, surrounded by friends, family and comrades, both with him in-person and virtually, he was well loved. And if you'd like to hear more stories and commemorations of our Dear Comrade Robbie, please check out our Socialist Action YouTube channel where we recently hosted a celebration of Robbie's life. And if you stick around until the end of the podcast, you'll get to hear our wonderful comrade Ellen reading some poetry commemorating Robbie's life.

Daniel Tarade  1:17:07  
Ellen reads a song of Phil Ochs, a folk singer from the 1960s. It's called when I'm gone. I really encourage people to look at the recording from the celebration of his life. He's been active since the 60s and his struggle in providing abortion care to women extended multiple provinces. At one point, he was a fly-in abortion provider in the Atlantic provinces. If people didn't have clinics nearby, he would fly into your community and provide services on-site. And the one anecdote maybe that I want to share then, just as a teaser for the stories you'll hear, when he first became a physician at a community clinic. This is anecdote from Ellen Krueger, who spoke at the celebration. They were looking for a feminist doctor and when they found out Robbie was a physician, well he was the son of a well-known couple who fought for Medicare in Saskatchewan. They had an idea that he'd be a good choice, and what he started doing in this clinic supporting low-income people, people with addiction, high racialized, Indigenous population, he went to their partnered pharmacy, and he asked that they start stocking more diapers and formula and other things. And when the pharmacist asked why, Robbie said I'm going to start writing prescriptions for diapers and other things. These are medical supplies. If people can't afford them, the government should be paying for it. And they did this for a few months until they got caught and they fought it in court, but they lost but Robbie at all times, until he passed away, did not compromise his principles, whether in his work, whether in his organizing, in debates, yet was always willing to listen and discuss patiently — 

Emily Steers  1:18:49  
and compassionately 

Daniel Tarade  1:18:50  
The support he provided, the inspiration he provided for me as someone who eventually became a doctor, I want to follow in the footsteps of someone who at all times put community first and Robbie was that comrade.

Emily Steers  1:19:02  
He's an inspiration to all of us. La lutte continue.

Daniel Tarade  1:19:06  
He is with us forever. Even though he did not get to live to see the socialist or communist society we all hope one day to live in, one based on the needs of many and cooperation, he cannot be separated from the struggle that will eventually lead us there.

Emily Steers  1:19:21  
Thank you so much for joining us again comrades. And we will have links to everything we discussed today in the description as always, and a transcript for those of you who like to read along. And once again, thank you for everyone for your continued support. If you would like to give us some monetary support, we will have our brand new shiny Ko-Fi linked in the description, and we'll be creating a Discord server where you can connect with us and we can discuss ideas for upcoming topics and future events. Thanks so much everyone.

Comrade Helen  1:19:58  
There's no place in this world where I'll belong when I'm gone, and I won't know the right from the wrong when I'm gone, and you won't find me singing on this song when I'm gone, so I guess I'll have to do it while I'm here. And I won't feel the flowing of the time when I'm gone. All the pleasures of love will not be mine when I'm gone. My pen won't pour a lyric line when I'm gone. So I guess I'll have to do it while I'm here. And I won't breathe the bracing air when I'm gone. I can't even worry about my cares when I'm gone. Won't be asked to do my share when I'm gone. So I guess I'll have to do it while I'm here. And I won't be running from the rain when I'm gone. And I can't even suffer from the pain when I'm gone. Can't say who's to praise and who's to blame when I'm gone. So I guess I'll have to do it while I'm here. Won't see the golden of the sun when I'm gone. And the evenings in the mornings will be won when I'm gone. Can't even singing louder than the guns when I'm gone. So I guess I'll have to do it while I'm here. All my days won't be dances of delight when I'm gone. And the sands will be shifting from my sight when I'm gone. Can't add my name to the fight when I'm gone. So I guess I'll have to do it while I'm here. And I won't be laughing at the lies when I'm gone. And I can't question how, when, or why when I'm gone. Can't live proud enough to die when I'm gone. So I guess I'll have to do it while I'm here.

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Code Red in Alberta
Canadian Heritage Moment — Northwest Rebellion
Vampires at the Door — Privatization in Newfoundland & Labrador
Cargill Workers Fight Back
UFCW Sells Out Gig Workers
Palestine Land Day and Poem
Socialist Action Demands: Russian-Ukraine War
Seven Years of Canadian Support for Invasion of Yemen
Teaser on Chinese Belt-and-Road Invasion
Commemoration of Comrade Robbie Mahood
When I'm Gone — Reading by Comrade Helen