United to Fight the Liberal Agenda

In the last two years from Seattle, Genoa, Brussels, Mexico City, San Paola and Lima, millions of young people and working people have fought against the injustice of the capitalist globalization and neo-liberal agenda. The actions to shut down and disrupt is the clear voice of the people declaring their opposition to neo-liberal criminal policies and the willingness to change them by any means necessary. The struggle is both worldwide and here in our own province. In British Columbia we see the ominous 90 Day agenda of the liberals loom. The tax cut that will eliminate approximately 1.2 billion of the provinces revenue has arrived, with a predicted deficit, for BC, of 2 billion.

While reduction of debt was the end goal there are sacrifices to be made by the people, largely being the poor and the working to pay for these tax breaks. The compensation expected to come from public service cuts, will not come from the recently appointed senators $100,000 salaries, but directly from public government programs. Some of these being :
- Forest Renewal BC
- Workers compensation board
- Power for Jobs Initiative
- BC Rail/Transport
- an end to subsidies to local businesses.

Any agencies or crown corporations that can be considered expendable, on liberal terms, will be eliminated. Recently , as part of the fiscal budget, the liberal government has decided to end the contracts of 14 people hired to do research on endangered species and biological diversity in BC. It is no surprise the tax cuts invariably favor the people earning $100,000 or more per year. It is no surprise the invariable stab directed at the people most dependent on public services.

We see, the trend towards ever increasing accumulation of wealth in the hands of fewer and fewer people continues unabated. To simply dismiss a discussion of the distribution of wealth as rhetoric, in the light of a neo-liberal agenda is auspicious, and an intellectually bankrupt argument.

It is the root of many if not most of our social problems including those relating to health, women, the poor, the working, the minority groups, and the elderly. All suffer now and will continue to suffer. These are people that canŐt afford the ad campaigns, lobbyists, media, and donŐt have time or the energy to organize protests and even if they did they couldnŐt get to them, due to the bus strike. Until there is a connection between the income of the least "productive" and most dispossessed people and those at the other end of the spectrum we will suffer massive widespread injustice.

While the issue of how these connections should be made are open to a great deal of debate and disagreement, this is not a connection that is of priority to the "New Era". Steady state economies which are ecologically friendly will continue to elude us so long as the "growth, growth, growth" school of economy reigns supreme. The ones who you will see prospering is industry. Oil and Natural Gas Industry is predicted to have a revenue reaching 1.8 billion dollars, and are delighted to be a top priority for CampbellŐs 90 Day Agenda for Change. The Oil and Gas industry is counting on this government to ensure reliable access to the resources.

Corporate resource development means escalated environment degradation. This is to be expected.

What else is to be expected?
Labor prepare. Labor beware We have already witnessed the start of a rewrite to the labour code. The retention of nurses and preservation of healthcare in BC placed a back burner issue compared to tax cuts. We have seen plans to make education and nursing 100% essential services, dening the right to strike and job action. Gordon may promise not to make cuts from education and healthcare but they certainly won't be upholding the current system or the workers rights. Especially under the anti - labour "New Era" that includes in its plans to make it a) more difficult for workers to win union certification under the Labour code, b) to stop sectoral bargaining, c) to institute an "independentÓ review of private sector pay equity legislation, and d) eliminating the union-only hiring hall requirements on high way construction projects and government sponsored siviculture contracts. What we can predict is full scale attack on a wide variety of fronts.

So what kind of opposition is possible in this province? We have just experienced nine years of the NDP claiming to be a friend of British Colombians., all the while bleeding the poor and cutting welfare rights. The Greens gained a modest increase in support by dumping there progressive policies in favor of electibility. Numerous socialist, communist and anarchist groupings are divided in a dozen camps. No major provincial opposition having coalesced since the 1983 Operation Solidarity General Strike.

So what can be done? It seems we are divided and fragmented but we are many with the same struggle and same desire for change. In the wake of Mike HarrisŐ political regime in Ontario, we have seen a strong campaign, organized by OCAP and run by people affected by poverty and social cutbacks to Stop Harris and his government. Here we see direct action casework in the defense of poor people under attack. OCAP campaign : "Defeat Harris: Fight to Win." the last five years have seen the Harris Tories target poor people in Ontario; criminalize the lives of street people, forcing workfare on First Nations and the poverty stricken, revoking tenants' rights and workers' protections, privatizing essential public services, and the dismantling of health care and affordable housing. In response, Ontario Coalition Against Poverty and Canadian Automobile Workers union work together, against Harris anti-social measures and have chosen to demonstrate militant activism and solidarity work, towards anti- capitalist struggles. The Fight to Win campaign of mobilization for economic disruption. The goal to strike directly at the government priority : Profit. Similarly, the province of BC, with a liberal mandate and their neo-liberal agenda will also have its economy run on the backs of the poor and the working class. Where is BCŐs Defeat Gordon Campbell. Fight to Win? Where is British Columbia's: End the New Era, 90 day liberal demolition campaign?

When is BC on a large scale going to call on anti-poverty and like-minded organizations, workers, students, unions, First Nations, women, youth and people of color to unite and take action to force this government from office. Already people not content to write letterŐs to their local MPŐs, and realizing the futility people of this are taking to the street to demand protection for workers hard fought for rights and the environment. An emerging militancy, challenging passivity and focuses on the reality.

What we do have:A full scale anti-social attack on a wide variety of fronts on all marginalized people, and working people What we donŐt have: A working class alternative with an Action Program based on the interest of the people whose rights are denied or suppressed.There is nothing passive about the 90 day liberal agenda. BC,like Ontario must meet each attack with an equally militant consequence that demonstrates that Gordon Campbell is a liability to BC, and that we have the power to shut them down. If the Tories and the Liberals won' t listen to reason or protest, the we must force them out by disrupting what they care about most: business as usual.

- Megan Oleson

OCAP: www.tao.ca/~ocap
BC LIberals: www.liberalsbc.ca