No to gov’t attack on political rights! says Communist League in Canada

By Katy LeRougetel
March 6, 2023
Carolina Martinez, left, a health care worker, met Beverly Bernardo, Communist League candidate, Feb. 18. Bernardo spoke out against Canadian government attack on truckers, rights.
Militant/Francois BradetteCarolina Martinez, left, a health care worker, met Beverly Bernardo, Communist League candidate, Feb. 18. Bernardo spoke out against Canadian government attack on truckers, rights.

MONTREAL — Beverly Bernardo, Communist League candidate in Montreal’s provincial by-election in the Saint-Henri–Sainte-Anne riding, turned in all the petitions and was declared on the ballot Feb. 20 for the Quebec National Assembly.

Over the February 18-19 weekend, more than a dozen Communist League campaign supporters fanned out across the area to introduce the campaign to working people and gather the remaining signatures needed. Bernardo is a factory worker and member of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers union.

The candidate is speaking out on the Feb. 17 report issued by Justice Paul Rouleau, who heads the commission appointed by Ottawa to review the federal government’s imposition of the Emergencies Act against the truckers’ Freedom Convoy in the capital last February. The commission upheld the government’s assault on the rights of working people.

“The purpose of the commission was never to determine if the use of the Emergencies Act was justified,” Bernardo told those she met, “but to endorse its implementation, making it easier for the Canadian capitalists’ government to use it again in the future — against unions defending workers against government and corporate attacks and anyone else protesting government policies. That’s exactly what Rouleau’s report does.”

Using the repressive law, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called out over 3,000 federal, provincial and municipal police from across the country equipped with military-grade weapons and armored vehicles, elite sharpshooters, horse cavalry, stun grenades, anti-riot weapon launchers, batons and pepper spray, to drive out of Ottawa the three-week Freedom Convoy protest by truckers and others opposed to vaccine mandates and other government policies out of the city. They arrested over 200 protesters.

The Emergencies Act “is nothing but a modern-day version of the discredited War Measures Act” last used in October 1970 to arrest hundreds of trade union leaders, fighters for the national rights of the Quebecois, socialists and leaders of our party in an effort to crush rising trade union struggles and the fight being waged then for Quebec independence, Bernardo said in a press release.

“I will be campaigning for its repeal as well as the dropping of all charges against Freedom Convoy participants,” she said.

Campaigners discussed these issues with working people in Saint-Henri-Sainte-Anne. A number of them knew 21-year-old aspiring Black rapper Nicous D’Andre Spring, who was killed by Montreal prison guards at Bordeaux Prison Dec. 24. He had lived in the neighborhood.

Bernardo participated in a vigil organized by Spring’s family days after he died. She joins in calling for the guards to be charged and put on trial for his death and for the video of the assault on him by prison guards to be released.

AnnMarie Modeste, a flower-arranger and single mother, met campaigners at her doorstep and decided to come to a Militant Labor Forum Feb. 18. She knew Spring very well. He was a friend of her son.

“I hope these people are called to justice,” she said at the forum. “If injustice happens to one, it happens to all.”

“Racism has to be addressed,” Modeste, who is Black, said. Communist League leader Steve Penner also spoke, saying, “Racism is a class question. It arose with capitalism and was used to justify slavery. It has been an essential part of the rise of colonialism and imperialism and is used to justify the imperialist rulers’ exploitation of the world’s oppressed peoples.

“The rulers are only a tiny handful of billionaire families. How do they keep power?” Penner asked. “Divide and rule. The only way to fight this is to unite working people to fight against racism, police brutality and every other form of oppression and exploitation. This is a life-and-death question for the labor movement.”

‘Workers need our own party’

When campaigner Sonia Obbadi knocked on Ayesha’s door and introduced Bernardo, Ayesha told them, “There’s an urgent need to address the problems of inflation and the cost of life, drugs and street gangs that make people fear for their safety.”

“It’s the deepening crisis of capitalism that makes life harder for working people,” Bernardo said. “Our campaign calls on our unions to fight for cost-of-living protection in all contracts for workers to offset inflation, and to fight for government jobs programs at union wages to build affordable housing, day care and more that we need.

“That’s the road to building a labor party, based on our unions,” she said, “that can defend our class interests, win allies, wrest political power out of the hands of the rich and create a government of workers and farmers.”

To learn more or get involved in the Communist League campaign, contact the party at the listed address.