Ontario Students Rise Up! Red Spring is Coming

Ontario Students Rise Up! Red Spring is Coming

Ever faithful to protecting capitalist interests, the enemies of the people in the government of Ontario have struck another blow against the interests of working class students. This time, it is by increasing the cost of education through a particularly conniving scheme: first, they leaked an announcement about a 10% tuition fee decrease for the 2019-2020 school year. They even promised that tuition fees will be frozen at this level for the following year as well. However, this is a diversion from the real news. The far more significant changes are in the structure of loans through the OSAP program. As always, when we delve deeper we find that behind every such announcement, whatever the rhetoric, the goal is for the government to structure education to train a generation of workers equipped only to take on the jobs they desire to exploit us through, and be pacified both through debt and propaganda.

What are the nuts and bolts of these changes? First, the 6-month post-graduation grace period has been eliminated, making repayment process and loan interest start immediately after graduation. This will result in students being forced into deeper debt, faster than before. It will also push more students into jobs outside of their field of study. This will lead to an increase of the class divide between working class and bourgeois students: working class students bear the brunt of student debt and will not have time to pursue work in the field of their study before they are forced to pay their loans. The second change is the altering of the way available funding is calculated, with the maximum cap put on the portion of funding offered in grants to 50%. This change hits working class students the hardest, since they are predominantly low-income. Previously, the grant-to-loan ratio was scaled to income and the number of dependents an applicant has. Now, while this is still the case, those with minimal income will be saddled with a higher debt load. Ultimately, this will push working class students who have the least ability to pay for the loans to have the greatest amount of debt. These changes should remind us that our education system is constructed to serve the interests of capitalists. These changes will entrench the class divisions amongst students and hurt those of us from the working class especially hard. None of us should be so naïve as to think that any politician today can create an education service that is in our interests. But we can fight to build one both in resisting these changes in the here and now and building a movement that can fundamentally restructure society. We can build a movement that can make revolution.

In addition to these decreases, one of the other changes is the so called “Student Choice Initiative”. The choice, of course, was made for the students by this government, without asking for our permission or opinions. The aim of this initiative is to alter the rules around ancillary fees. When realized, it will direct post-secondary education institutions to let students choose to opt-out of “non-essential” fees. This will be realized in two ways:

1. Student union or association fees will be made optional. We need to remember, that outside Quebec these organizations are not democratic, accountable or connected to serving the interests of most students. Corruption scandals and toothless actions are the order of the day for most student unions across this country. But let us be clear on this: this is an issue that working class students need to solve on our own, by organizing to rebuild our student movement in our interests. Politicians need to keep their filthy hands out of our affairs! And the same goes for school administrations, constantly working to sabotage our future.

2. Other fees and levies that predominantly serve working class students will be undermined. We can think of many examples from food banks to daycare services. These fees, while “non-essential”, primarily help working class students who are in need of assistance. What this change will functionally achieve is to further privatize the provision of services that may not be essential to the school as a whole, but are certainly essential for working class students. These meager handouts are not even enough to adequately help most people in need of assistance, but the attack on it cannot be seen as anything other than an attempt by capitalists to profit further off of the misery they create for us.

Most student groups, including those on the left that oppose this tuition increase have adopted a stance of laying all of the blame on one bad man – Doug Ford, the premier of Ontario. He is certainly a bad man, but the changes we fight against aren’t the result of one man’s actions – they are a result of the governing Conservative party’s policies. But even more so, they are the result of how the Canadian state works, on the federal, provincial and municipal levels. It is the result of it serving the ruling class of the wealthiest capitalists and their interests. We do not have universal, barrier-free and accessible post-secondary education. We do not have an education system that serves the people, we only have a system where we take on a huge debt to be able to qualify as sufficiently-trained workers for the capitalist bosses. Our education system only constantly reproduces society as we know it – a society built on oppressive and outright criminal system of capitalism, colonialism and imperialism. It does not help to bring us towards a better future, towards a different kind of world. And those who cannot afford to take on education get forced into increasingly precarious, low-paying, back-breaking labor that can barely suffice for survival.

Outrage against the actions of this government is justified. However, things will not change through expressions of moral outrage and knee-jerk reactions to every terrible measure that this government announces every few weeks. Students and workers need to organize around longer-term goals instead. We need to unite in a fight for a better world, the way we want to see it. Not just be scattered and on the defensive all the time.

This government has already launched an attack on every working class person in the province, by depriving us of the small, overdue, minimum wage increase. It has attacked us by stealing the much needed guaranteed few paid sick leave days and other basic workplace necessities. In a show of adherence to colonial oppression, it has canceled all work to include the general practices, customs and traditions of Indigenous peoples in geography, history and social studies courses in both elementary and high school curriculum. It has forced our high-schools to revert back to an outdated sex-education curriculum, reversing years of improved understanding of healthier relationships. It has deprived the Francophone communities in Ontario of the funding for their education programs. There is much harm this government has done, and much more it will do.

This is why we call on all the communities, groups and individuals harmed and outraged by all these attacks on the people to join us in taking matters into our own hands. We are calling for a one-day Strike and marches on February 15th at noon. We will organize a walk-out of classes across the province, and we are looking for every bit of solidarity and support!

We aim to increase the resistance further, and we call on all the students in Ontario to join our Red Spring Day of Action on March 20th! Students across the country will mobilize for a one-day strike to shut down the schools and make the following 5 demands:

 

  1. Education in the service of the people, not profit!

Education must serve the interests of the people, not corporations and profit. Everyone needs to have access to post-secondary education. Research has to be done for the benefit of all, not the benefit of capitalists and their wars. A democratic and scientific education must replace the imperialist, settler-colonial and patriarchal curriculum. Education needs to prepare us to struggle for justice and liberation, not simply prepare us to be exploited on the job.

  1. Guaranteed paid internships for all students

Interns are workers and must be paid equally for the same work as other workers in their field. Over 300,000 interns across the country do not get proper pay. The times when employers could exploit intern workers without pay must end now!

  1. Abolition of tuition fees at all levels of education! Cancellation of all outstanding student debt!

Banks and the government keep using students as cash-cows while tuition fees and debt become unbearable for most of us. We will not be held hostage to the scam of having to give an arm and a leg for a basic necessity such as education!

  1. Barrier-free access to post-secondary education for all Indigenous people and an anti-colonial aspect to all programs!

Canada, as a settler-colonial state, is built on stolen land and the genocide of Indigenous nations. All Indigenous people must have barrier-free access to post-secondary education. We support the creation of independent faculties, colleges and universities controlled by the Indigenous people. The education system needs to foster the cultures and languages of Indigenous people within it and include mandatory anti-colonial components in all programs.

  1. Democratic control of post-secondary institutions!

Universities and colleges should be run by the people they serve, not by unelected boards of governors and administrators filled with representatives of the big banks and large corporations. We demand the abolition of boards of governors. Instead, schools must be run by committees elected at a general assembly composed of students, faculty, support staff, and members of the community.

 

We can fight and we will fight, but in order to win it is not enough to just push back against the harmful changes constantly being hurled at us before we can effectively organize to resist. The only way we can hope to win is by building a movement of students and workers capable of putting up a fight. This movement will grow in each and every struggle until we have realized a world where education serves the people, not profit and where the governing rules of society are not exploitation and oppression, but mutual support and solidarity among the working class. In order to achieve this, we need to end capitalism and the capitalist education system. Today, this means gathering together and striking back.

On February 15th join us across Ontario and on March 20th join us coast to coast to coast. Let us be the spark to start a prairie fire and burn down this old system, clearing the way for a new one to grow!

 

No fees, no debt, no barriers to education!

Dare to struggle – dare to win!

Coordinating Committee of the MER-RSM

For more information about getting involved, email: info@mer-rsm.ca

Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RevolutionaryStudentMovement/

 

Solidarity with LDSS and CVDCS Student Walkouts Against School Closures!

Solidarity with LDSS and CVDCS Student Walkouts Against School Closures!

This past Wednesday, in solidarity with last week’s student walkout at Lively District Secondary School (LDSS), members of RSM-Sudbury gathered there to distribute a slightly different version of the statement below among the students, and to write messages of solidarity in chalk around the school. That same day, students at Chelmsford Valley District Composite School (CVDCS) also staged a walkout, inspired by LDSS students. We greet that action with the same enthusiasm and our statement has been amended accordingly.


Students of LDSS and CVDCS!

Down with the school closures!The Revolutionary Student Movement – Sudbury (RSM-Sudbury) congratulates you on the mass walkouts you organized over the past week to protest plans by the Rainbow District School Board (RDSB) to close your schools!

As the local chapter of a country-wide organization of anti-capitalist students and youth, with members at a few high schools in Sudbury and at Laurentian University, we wish to extend to you our full solidarity and support in this struggle.

Last month we were dismayed to learn about the RDSB’s announcement of massive and accelerated cuts to school infrastructure and educational programs – but the defiant stand you have taken gives us hope! And we are sure there are many others being inspired by your rebellious spirit.

You know better than anyone about the countless hardships these closures will create for many thousands of students, families, teachers and support staff across Greater Sudbury. The loss of jobs, community resources, educational and extracurricular programmes, hopes and social bonds will be hardest felt among low-income, working-class, rural and Indigenous communities.

And for what? The RDSB is trumping up a relatively small budget shortage to justify a sweeping attack on many communities that are already struggling with effects of past school closures – and with a social, economic and political system that leaves us poor, powerless and without prospects for the future. Meanwhile the School Board has no problems finding $7 million to spend on a new office for their bureaucrats!

That is why the cuts must be fought, that is why you are fighting, and that is why RSM-Sudbury has been gearing up to join the fight by your side. When we first heard about the walkout in Lively, we were in the midst of organizing a series of student speak-outs across Greater Sudbury, including in Lively and Chelmsford, to condemn the school closures. The speak-outs are meant to let students and families express their anger and unite for mass actions, just like what you did last week. They will also provide a fighting alternative to the phoney public meetings that the RDSB will be holding in the coming weeks, the aim of which is to create the illusion of ‘community input’ and stem the tide of grassroots struggle.

And a broad, united fight to the finish is absolutely necessary, because we are going up against powerful forces that will not budge unless we force their hand. The School Board and the Government have already shown they are no friends of us students, like in Spring 2015 when they worked together to crush the high school teachers’ strike that fought for better quality of education, for smaller and more personalized classes. The system that these institutions represent offers us nothing, unless we demonstrate that we have the strength to take it regardless of the wishes of those in power.

Your example deserves to be imitated widely, both at schools directly affected by the cuts and at schools that have been spared for now. Our hope is that the speak-outs will go a small way toward building a combative movement of students and supporters in Greater Sudbury that will toss the RDSB’s plans into the trash.

Solidarity with students of LDSS and CVDCS!

Fight the school closures all across Greater Sudbury!

No compromise, no cuts!

We invite all sympathetic students and supporters who wish to work together with us to push this struggle forward to contact our Facebook page or email rsm.sudbury@gmail.com. You can also come out to our twice-weekly general meetings:

  • Tuesdays, 3:30-6pm on the main floor of the Mackenzie Public Library
  • Thursdays, 7-9pm in room C-318 (Classroom Building) at Laurentian University

Down with Displacement, Up with Decent Housing!

British Columbia’s Lower Mainland includes some of the most expensive places to live in occupied Canada. Of the 523 municipalities surveyed in the Canadian Rental Housing Index, Vancouver and Burnaby rank last, or close to last in measures of rental affordability and quality of rental units. [1] The lack of affordable housing for working class people has been termed the “housing crisis”. This crisis affects up to 116,000 people in BC alone. [2]

With the housing crisis deepening, activists have initiated a number of actions in the Lower Mainland to raise awareness about it. In Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES), the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU) and International League of People’s Struggles (ILPS) have organized a “Tent City” since July 9. About 50-60 activists, including individuals who are homeless or are currently living in squalid conditions, have set up tents to occupy 58 West Hastings Street, a site currently owned by the municipal government. [3] “Tent Cities” have also been set up in Victoria and Abbotsford elsewhere in BC, and Kitchener-Waterloo in Ontario.

Furthermore, there was currently an occupation of an apartment, acquired by the developer Amacon, at 5025 Imperial Street in Burnaby, by the Alliance Against Displacement. Tenants in this block of apartments are among an estimated 1,400 people in the low-income Metrotown neighbourhood facing the threat of “demoviction”. Apartment buildings with affordable housing units will be demolished so that expensive condos get built in their place. [4, 5] The occupation started on July 9, and as of the morning of July 20, the RCMP have carried out the court injunction to remove the protestors from the site of occupation. [6]

The Revolutionary Student Movement-Vancouver section, extends our solidarity with the “Tent City” in Vancouver and the occupation in Burnaby. We believe that decent, affordable housing for working-class people is a vital necessity, and as such, resolutely support their demands. We commend both occupations for highlighting how the housing crisis affects some of the most vulnerable sectors of capitalist society. We also commend the actions for highlighting the inaction that “progressive” municipal governments in Vancouver and Burnaby, led by Gregor Robertson and Derek Corrigan respectively, have taken in addressing the housing crisis.

The Homelessness Crisis

At its most visible level, the housing crisis includes the 11,000 people in BC who live on the streets. Although Robertson was elected on a promise to wipe out street homelessness in Vancouver by 2015, there are 1847 people who live on the streets in Vancouver in 2016, the highest in a decade. [7] These figures do not include the 40,000 people who are “hidden homeless” in BC and who get by through living in cars or couch-surfing. As the crisis of homelessness has gotten worse, some cities such as Burnaby and Surrey do not even have homeless shelters, and the number of empty units in Vancouver now exceeds the estimated homeless population. [8, 24]

Some of the most vulnerable sectors of the proletariat, or working-class, are at risk of street homeless. We are appalled when migrants, and indigenous people disproportionately face homelessness and housing insecurity. It is estimated that even although 4% of the Lower Mainland’s population are indigenous, they represent over 30% of the homeless population [2]. When migrants, including refugees, and indigenous people do not have access to basic needs, this highlights the continuing racist, colonial, and white-supremacist nature of the Canadian State. Next, women and other gender oppressed people who are homeless face a vicious cycle. They often need to choose between facing physical and sexual abuse from an abusive partner, or going homeless; and while homeless, they sometimes need to return to an abusive partner for financial support, so they can afford fines just for being homeless! [3, 9] Finally, we are concerned when up to 1 in 5 homeless youths identify as LGBTQ2S and when the number of homeless youth is growing. [2, 10] We are appalled especially when homeless youth face unnecessary stress and abuse as they try to get an education or enter the workforce. [10, 11]

The Gentrification of Proletarian Neighbourhoods

13718521_10205350418759957_4339080494318765082_nThe housing crisis also includes up to 65,000 individuals in BC who spend more than 50% on their income on rent, and who often live in substandard, cramped conditions. These individuals are considered at risk of homelessness since housing is considered affordable if it uses 30% of a person’s total income [2]. Housing insecurity, however, does not come out of nowhere. The continuing displacement working-class communities experience in Vancouver and Burnaby is because of policies of gentrification set out by Robertson and Corrigan’s “progressive” governments. These policies are often framed as benign “densification” plans.

In principle, more housing is a good thing, but in reality, building more housing actually displaces low-income residents when they are not able to afford the new housing which is being built. In Metrotown alone, tenants on average would need to pay 25% more in rent than they currently do under Corrigan’s “Downtown Metrotown” plan, yet over half of the tenants in Metrotown cannot afford to pay their existing rents! [3] The same fears of being “priced out” of their own communities are being expressed by tenants in nearby Joyce-Collingwood. [13]

In the Downtown Eastside, including Chinatown, the Robertson government has advocated “social mix” for new developments in these neighbourhoods. “Social mix” means any new developments would include both social housing and “market-price” housing. However, few social housing units in practice would be developed. For instance, a new development at 105 Keefer Street would only include 25 social housing units compared with 102 “market-price” units, at a time when 3,000 Chinese seniors are in need of affordable housing. [14, 15] Next, “social mix” is a policy of segregation. Low-income residents face additional policing, and have separate amenities from higher-income residents, although both live in the same building.  Most importantly, “social mix” destroys more affordable housing than it creates. A net 279 units of low-income housing were lost during the development of the Woodward’s building, one of the first buildings in Vancouver with a “social mix”. [16]  Policies of “social mix” offer no permanent solution to thousands of individuals who have waited years for decent housing, and in the meantime, have lived in cockroach, bedbug-infested, and unaffordable SROs without a shed of privacy. [113606803_10205315895976909_4803548621804326757_n2] It is an absolute shame when these policies destroy the fabric of proletarian neighbourhoods.

The Housing Crisis at Universities

As many working-class students now attend universities, the housing crisis also affects them and extends on campus. There is a lack of affordable housing for students whether housing is on or off campus. Indeed, more than 6000 students are now on the waiting list to access residences at UBC at a time when residence fees are getting more expensive. [21] In 2015, students at UBC protested a 30% increase in residence fees as part of the “I Am A Student” movement. A dormitory at UBC can now cost over $1000 per month [17] at a time when the average student makes only about $750/month (unadjusted for inflation) [18]. This means that students often need to work 2-3 jobs, even during the school year, to make ends meet and to pay for tuition.

To make matters worse, universities do not make developing affordable housing a priority but instead choose to destroy units of affordable housing! Earlier this year, tenants at the SFU’s Louis Riel House, which included 60 units of affordable housing for low-income students, students with families, single mothers, and First Nations students, were evicted. SFU had willfully neglected the condition of the building over its lifetime, and does not have a plan to rehouse all students who were evicted. SFU plans to close down an additional 210 units of affordable student housing. [19] The closure of affordable housing for students with families has also happened at UBC with the closure of the Acadia Courts in 2012. [20] It is shameful when universities choose profit-making from developing projects such as Wesbrook Village and UniveriCity at a time when many students are in need of affordable housing.

Our Demands

Once again, we are glad that a genuine proletarian movement has emerged to struggle for housing justice when until now, “taxpayers” and “homebuyers” have dominated this conversation. We are glad to see militant struggle against landlords and developers who take advantage of oppressed peoples, and action against governments who do not listen to proletarian communities. [3, 13, 14] We see the struggle for housing justice as part of the wider struggle for socialism since capitalism is the root of oppression for proletarian communities. Power needs to be directly in the hands of proletarian communities so that gains for housing justice are made permanent.

 In solidarity with the demands made by the “Tent City” and the occupation at Metrotown [3, 22, 23], we demand the following:

  • Stop the gentrification!: Declare an immediate moratorium on all new “demovictions” and new expensive housing developments in proletarian neighbourhoods.
  • Social housing now!: Build 100% social and affordable housing on government-owned lands in all proletarian neighbourhoods, including the site at 58 West Hastings Street, and university-owned lands for proletarian students.
  • Stop the displacement!: Rehouse all students living at Louis Riel House evicted by SFU, and all tenants evicted by current or future “demovictions”.
  • Rent control laws!: Enact rent control laws, which also apply to dormitories, to ensure housing is affordable for working-class tenants and students in the long term.
  • Homes not jails!: Divert $5 billion dollars from the federal prison, military, police, immigration enforcement budgets, and subsidies to Canadian mining companies committing dubious acts abroad, to support affordable and safe housing for the people!

We finally encourage all proletarian and politicized students raise awareness about the housing crisis and to support both the “Tent City” and the occupation in Burnaby. To support these actions, students can:

  1. Sign VANDU’s online petition, linked here, to support the “Tent City”’s demands in resolving the housing crisis.
  2. Donate supplies to Vancouver’s “Tent City” or support it financially. A list of supplies which the “Tent City” needs is here, and a site where financial contributions can be made is here.
  3. Follow the “Alliance Against Displacement” on Facebook and Twitter for latest updates about future mobilizations in Burnaby and other information about their campaign.
  4. Share this statement, the demands of housing justice campaigns, and other news items on housing justice on social media.

Homes not jails!

Our homes can’t wait!

Affordable housing is a right. What do we do? Unite and fight!

References:

  1. http://rentalhousingindex.ca/pdf/Ranked-Indicator-Scores.pdf
  2. http://www.socialhousingbc.com/
  3. http://thevolcano.org/2016/07/13/were-not-going-home-and-were-not-giving-up/
  4. http://www.burnabynow.com/news/update-housing-activists-occupy-vacant-building-1.2300122
  5. http://www.stopdisplacement.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Dunblane-Demovictions-Report_Spring2016-1.pdf
  6. https://twitter.com/stopdisplacemnt
  7. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/homeless-create-new-tent-city-to-protest-vancouvers-social-housing/article30898440/
  8. http://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2014/10/28/Burnaby-Surrey-Shirk-Homeless-Responsibility/
  9. http://www.wavaw.ca/talking-the-talk-vancouvers-homeless-count/
  10. http://blogs.ubc.ca/gayandhomeless/files/2011/07/BetweentheCracks2002.pdf
  11. https://www.thestar.com/yourtoronto/education/2015/06/09/foreign-whiz-kid-endured-homelessness-to-graduate-top-of-class-at-u-of-t.html
  12. https://raisetherates.files.wordpress.com/2016/05/2015report.pdf
  13. https://joyceareara.wordpress.com/
  14. http://www.vancouversun.com/business/controversial+chinatown+proposal+rejigged/11438334/story.html
  15. http://thevolcano.org/2016/02/04/our-generations-fight-for-chinatown/
  16. https://ccapvancouver.wordpress.com/2013/02/20/ww_gent/
  17. http://vancouver.housing.ubc.ca/applications/fees-payments/
  18. http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/75-001-x/2010109/pdf/11341-eng.pdf
  19. https://lrhcommunity.wordpress.com/about/our-declaration/
  20. http://ubyssey.ca/news/acadia-courts-relocation-876/
  21. http://www.theprovince.com/news/housing+waiting+list+names+long+would+month+square+feet/11736766/story.html
  22. https://tentcityvancouver.wordpress.com/
  23. https://ccapvancouver.wordpress.com/ourhomescantwait/
  24. http://www.straight.com/news/653356/empty-homes-study-reveals-10000-vacant-condos-still-fails-explain-vancouver-real-estate

Images taken by ILPS Canada and author.

Reject Austerity- No to VSB Cuts and School Closures!

Reject Austerity- No to VSB Cuts and School Closures!

The Revolutionary Student Movement, Vancouver chapter, (RSM-Vancouver) is a group of anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist student organizers, based on unceded Coast Salish Territories. We are aware that the Vancouver School Board (VSB) is currently finalizing its operating budget for the 2016/2017 school year. In this process, the VSB has proposed cuts to make up for a $24.6 million funding shortfall, the largest to date, on top of the $82 million in cuts already made to the Vancouver public school system in the past decade. The VSB has launched public consultations on the budget, and will vote to adopt or reject it by April 28. 

In the long term, the VSB is exploring the possibilities of closing up to 19-21 schools, mainly on Vancouver’s East Side: a place where the working-class, urban First Nations, and immigrants are concentrated. School closures were recommended by consulting firm Ernst and Young, acting on behalf of the Liberal provincial government, as part of an “asset rationalization approach” to manage the VSB’s finances. The provincial government has  continually reduced funding for public education, and has previously asked the VSB to close schools before the board goes ahead with seismic upgrades. The school closures would mean that by 2030, up to 5,167 fewer seats would be available in Vancouver’s schools. The “Long Range Facilities Plan” , which proposes school closures and came as a result of Ernst and Young’s report, has been tentatively adopted by the VSB and will become final, after some public consultation, by June.

The RSM-Vancouver unequivocally denounces the cuts proposed in this budget and all recommendations proposed by “consultants” to close schools in Vancouver’s East Side. We see them as egregious, co-ordinated attacks on the conditions on proletarian, or working class neighbourhoods in Vancouver.

We are firstly concerned about the elimination of up to 200 positions from the Vancouver School Board in the present budget, especially when some individuals employed in these positions are precarious workers and serve in positions which benefit proletarian students. For instance:

  • ESL instructors, multicultural liaison workers, and a district-wide anti-racism worker are set to be eliminated or have their hours reduced. This is concerning when immigrant families and immigrant children in proletarian neighbourhoods access these services provided by the VSB, especially when the primary caregiver in a household does not speak English fluently.
  • The district-wide anti-homophobia mentor position will be eliminated. This is concerning when queer families often settle into proletarian neighbourhoods, when students in proletarian neighbourhoods are often far away from LGBTQ2S support services, and when a policy adopted last year to protect trans*/gender-variant students is yet to be fully implemented by the VSB.
  • Elementary school enrichment programs, including music and arts programs, are set to be eliminated. This is concerning when proletarian children often rely on these programs as their only source of extra-curricular activities.
  • Braille, Deaf, and special education support positions are set to be eliminated. This is concerning when these are often the only sources of support for proletarian families whose children have disabilities, and when schoolteachers are often not trained to support students with disabilities.
  • Aboriginal education positions are set to be eliminated. This is concerning when Vancouver’s First Nations population lives in proletarian neighbourhoods and when decolonization and aboriginal education is needed more than ever, in light of recent events.

This is not to mention the elimination of 23 teaching positions and the class size cap in Vancouver’s secondary schools. These changes will only put more stress on overworked teachers when teachers have indicated that their class sizes are already too big during the previous BC Teachers’ Strike. The quality of education in proletarian secondary schools will only go down when teachers in those schools become overworked and are not able to give enough individualized attention to students who are struggling.

Moreover, we oppose the recommendation to close 19-21 “underutilized” schools in the East Side, especially at a time when BC Statistics Agency has predicted that enrolment in the VSB may go up by 8000 students by 2025! Closing these schools will only cause grief to working parents who may need to travel far away from their neighbourhoods to access education  for their children. Next, we reject the basis that these schools are “underutilized”, when they often provide special programs such as a First Nations-focused education and spaces where proletarian communities can gather and organize.  As such, enrolment should not be the sole measure of a school’s value when schools provide much more than literacy and life skills for children.

Based on all of these proposals, we can only see that austerity is just a synonym for class war. Class war occurs when “consultants” recommend closing “underutilized” schools in proletarian neighbourhoods, only so that the VSB can have the resources to make seismic upgrades for schools in bourgeois, upper-class neighbourhoods. Class war occurs when budget proposals make cuts to services proletarian families often access. Class war occurs when the quality of education in proletarian schools is declining as a result of overworked teachers and support staff. In these times of capitalist crisis and neoliberalism, austerity becomes a way to openly exploit proletarians so that the rich can only become richer.

teachers-1Austerity, however, can be stopped. In the short term, we would like to encourage the current school board to extend public consultations, especially when the masses are condemning austerity, to vote no to an austerity budget, and to stop any proposed school closures. We condemn the so-called “progressive” trustees on the school board when they claim to be fighting for proletarian students and better public education, but instead vote for cuts and school closures. We recall Vancouver’s recent history when in 1984, a school board comprised of “progressive” trustees refused to obey the provincial government’s directive to make cuts. The cuts in that year never happened as a result of the trustees’ determination during this struggle.

Furthermore, we encourage the masses, especially proletarian students, to voice their opposition to these proposed austerity measures from the VSB. We are glad to see visible opposition to the cuts but we are appalled when under austerity, groups representing diverse sectors in proletarian neighbourhoods fight each other for whatever crumbs they can get from the ruling class. We applaud the actions of students, when the students of Greenwood Secondary School walked out of their classes in protest of the Toronto District School Board’s’ proposal to close their school. Similarly, we encourage students in the VSB to display the same militancy in opposing this budget and proposed school closures, as they did in organizing in solidarity with BC teachers during the BC Teachers’ Strike.

At the same time, we deplore a system when the bourgeoisie (ruling, and capitalist class) are allowed total power over the education of proletarian children. We cannot wait for “progressives”, including the BC NDP, to improve the conditions in proletarian neighbourhoods when many of these “progressives” support austerity at the same time. It is only fair that proletarians, which comprise the majority of society, are able to end austerity for good and allocate society’s wealth to benefit of their communities. This is why the Revolutionary Student Movement fights for an end to the rotten capitalist system, the root of oppression for proletarian families, and dares to build the struggle for socialism.

ROCK BEATS SCISSORS! SOLIDARITY BEATS AUSTERITY!

Sources:

  1. https://www.vsb.bc.ca/20162017-budget
  2. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/vsb-busdget-cuts-1.3515629
  3. http://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/education/administration/resource-management/reports/moe_vsb_review_report_june_2015.pdf
  4. http://www.vsb.bc.ca/sites/default/files/shared/Item%201%20-%20Interim%20Long%20Range%20Facilities%20Plan.pdf
  5. https://www.vsb.bc.ca/sites/default/files/shared/2016-2017%20Preliminary%20Budget%20Proposals%20Report%20March%2031%202016%20-%20Website%20Version.pdf
  6. http://bctf.ca/publications/NewsmagArticle.aspx?id=21540
  7. http://www.newstalk1010.com/news/2016/04/08/east-end-high-school-students-walk-out-of-class-in-protest
  8. http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/b-c-teachers-strike-imminent-as-negotiations-with-government-at-an-impasse

International Working Women’s Day 2016 – A March and Demonstration for Abortion Access in Charlottetown, PEI

In February 2016, the Revolutionary Student Movement at UPEI initiated a united front for abortion access. Working with affiliates of the Campus Alliance for Reproductive Justice (CARJ), the PEI Reproductive Rights Organization (PRRO), the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (ARRC), and Abortion Access Now PEI (AANPEI), we organized a demonstration which took place on March 8th, International Working Women’s Day, to raise the struggle for abortion access.

The rally started on Kent Street at 4 o’clock, where we distributed signs, flags, and the now-iconic red braids and bandannas of the ‘militant Anne of Green Gables’ street art, created by a local artist known only as iamkarats. We started by singing an abortion-themed parody of the Ice Cream song from Anne, and then began our march down Great George Street, past the Province House, and toward the Gentleman’s Club on King Street. Speeches were given over a megaphone by a few participants. The demonstration ended with a Scream Choir, to put the frustration and rage of the masses on display.

This demonstration, however, does not signify the pinnacle of the struggle we are waging for reproductive justice and against patriarchy. Capitalism and patriarchy have developed together, out of the same historical process, as a dual system of exploitation and oppression. As long as there is capitalism, there will be an economic system in which patriarchy can flourish. And as long as there is patriarchal oppression, there will be a society that favours capitalist exploitation. It is only by smashing both capitalism and patriarchy through communist revolution that we can end gender oppression, and secure a future that is free from exploitation and oppression. We will continue organizing demonstrations like these to bring more proletarian women, and other gender-oppressed people, into the mass struggle for liberation. Guided by Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and Proletarian Feminism, we must wage an endless struggle against all forms of oppression to build socialism and communism.

 

A March and Demonstration for Abortion Access
Photo by Jon Viau
Close the Barn Door, Keep the Pigs Out! RCMP Recruitment Protest in Toronto

Close the Barn Door, Keep the Pigs Out! RCMP Recruitment Protest in Toronto

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On Wednesday, November 19th, the Revolutionary Student Movement—an anti-capitalist, militant student organization—carried out a protest against a Royal Canadian Mounted Police recruitment event on University of Toronto campus. The protest outside the Medical Science Building was joined by comrades from the Proletarian Feminist Front and the Proletarian Revolutionary Action Committee. Protestors handed out pamphlets to passing pedestrians and attendees of the RCMP propaganda session. The comrades led chants denouncing the RCMP’s recruitment presence on St. George Campus, and held speeches denouncing capitalism, imperialism and settler-colonialism, all of which are the foundation upon which the RCMP functions as the strong arm of the ruling class.

The University of Toronto has a long history of accommodating the recruitment efforts of the repressive state apparatus on campus. The RCMP not only holds 1-2 recruitment sessions per semester, but also participates heavily in university career fairs. Police recruitment has largely been ignored by the left in most of English Canada, with no major disruption remaining in the collective memory of the University of Toronto campus. As a result, the cops have been left to their own devices in recruiting today’s bullies into tomorrow’s pigs.

The Revolutionary Student Movement broke this dubious ceasefire by leading the first protest against the pigs’ recruitment process at the University of Toronto. This struggle built on the immense success of the Sudbury Revolutionary Student Movement’s disruption of a similar event at Laurentian University. While our comrades in Sudbury were forcibly shoved out of the pigs’ playground, they still delivered a strong blow to the recruitment event. Moreover, they remained outside the building and educated participants and witnesses as to the necessity of smashing the capitalists’ grasp on the university and reclaiming the campus for the people.

The cowardly behavior of the police was not just in Sudbury; it also reared its pathetic head at the University of Toronto, where the RCMP recruiters refused to exit through the front door where the protest was being held. Instead, the pigs remained inside the lobby for 10 minutes with no idea of what to do in response to our actions. Truly, the cops are paper tigers.

These disruptions against the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have shown that it is possible to engage in direct action against the police, even in a time where the pouting of opportunists has demobilized and confused the left. Moreover, these struggles have in fact shown the necessity of an independent and militant student movement that actively confronts the pigs who want to turn our campus and our city into their sty.

The police are the enemy. This is not because of incidental injustices within the police force itself, such as corruption or sexism within the ranks, although they may certainly exist. The police, first and foremost, are the repressive arm of the ruling class, raised against the masses of workers who toil each day for capitalist profits. The police are the enemy of the vast majority of society because of their social function within the capitalist system, as explained in the pamphlet produced by the Revolutionary Student Movement and distributed at the action:

“Like other police forces in Canada, they exist to protect capital and ensure the stable functioning of the capitalist system. If this means abusing and intimidating communities into submission, fine. If this means lying and spying, no problem. If this means beating up and arresting protesters who denounce this exploitative system, it’s all in a day’s work. We must have no illusions: if the people were to rise up against such a system, the police would be on the front lines against them, and would be happy for the overtime pay.”

Furthermore, the RCMP is an army of occupation of indigenous lands and peoples. This function continues into the present day, suspended only in Ontario, Québec and Newfoundland, where provincial police departments have taken over and put their jackboots on the necks of the indigenous people in their jurisdictions. This colonial function is horrendously illustrated in the outright neglect by the RCMP of the epidemic of missing and murdered aboriginal women, which they refuse to investigate, much less solve. And how could they? To remedy a crime of settler-colonialism requires that settler-colonialism be abolished, which in turn would require the abolition—in fact, the smashing—of the RCMP itself.

Finally, the RCMP is a domestic intelligence apparatus for political repression. Much like the FBI and NSA of the United States, the RCMP also exists to keep tabs on, disrupt and repress people and organizations who oppose the current state of affairs. If you’ve ever spoken out against imperialist war, capitalist exploitation, racist violence, or colonial occupation, the RCMP wants to know about it. And if they have their way, they will. If you’re upset about rising unemployment, growing personal debt, falling wages and failing social services, the RCMP is your enemy because they work tirelessly to protect the capitalist system, the system that causes all of these problems. They understand this fact and will do what they can to arrest, jail, frame or discredit anyone who opposes capitalism.

This is not just the legacy of the RCMP, but rather remains to this day the very purpose of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. They are here to crush all the revolutionary (even non-revolutionary) aspirations of the oppressed. It is with this understanding that the Revolutionary Student Movement says: “Close the barn door! Keep the pigs out!” We must show that the police are unwelcome on campus. In order to do so, we must take the campus out of the hands of capitalists and make it a site of class struggle!

PCR-RCP article published here

Close the Barn Door, Keep the Pigs Out! RCMP Recruitment Protest in Toronto

Close the Barn Door, Keep the Pigs Out! RCMP Recruitment Protest in Toronto

On Wednesday, November 19th, the Revolutionary Student Movement—an anti-capitalist, militant student organization—carried out a protest against a Royal Canadian Mounted Police recruitment event on University of Toronto campus. The protest outside the Medical Science Building was joined by comrades from the Proletarian Feminist Front and the Proletarian Revolutionary Action Committee. Protestors handed out pamphlets to passing pedestrians and attendees of the RCMP propaganda session. The comrades led chants denouncing the RCMP’s recruitment presence on St. George Campus, and held speeches denouncing capitalism, imperialism and settler-colonialism, all of which are the foundation upon which the RCMP functions as the strong arm of the ruling class.

The University of Toronto has a long history of accommodating the recruitment efforts of the repressive state apparatus on campus. The RCMP not only holds 1-2 recruitment sessions per semester, but also participates heavily in university career fairs. Police recruitment has largely been ignored by the left in most of English Canada, with no major disruption remaining in the collective memory of the University of Toronto campus. As a result, the cops have been left to their own devices in recruiting today’s bullies into tomorrow’s pigs.

The Revolutionary Student Movement broke this dubious ceasefire by leading the first protest against the pigs’ recruitment process at the University of Toronto. This struggle built on the immense success of the Sudbury Revolutionary Student Movement’s disruption of a similar event at Laurentian University. While our comrades in Sudbury were forcibly shoved out of the pigs’ playground, they still delivered a strong blow to the recruitment event. Moreover, they remained outside the building and educated participants and witnesses as to the necessity of smashing the capitalists’ grasp on the university and reclaiming the campus for the people.

The cowardly behavior of the police was not just in Sudbury; it also reared its pathetic head at the University of Toronto, where the RCMP recruiters refused to exit through the front door where the protest was being held. Instead, the pigs remained inside the lobby for 10 minutes with no idea of what to do in response to our actions. Truly, the cops are paper tigers.

These disruptions against the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have shown that it is possible to engage in direct action against the police, even in a time where the pouting of opportunists has demobilized and confused the left. Moreover, these struggles have in fact shown the necessity of an independent and militant student movement that actively confronts the pigs who want to turn our campus and our city into their sty.

The police are the enemy. This is not because of incidental injustices within the police force itself, such as corruption or sexism within the ranks, although they may certainly exist. The police, first and foremost, are the repressive arm of the ruling class, raised against the masses of workers who toil each day for capitalist profits. The police are the enemy of the vast majority of society because of their social function within the capitalist system, as explained in the pamphlet produced by the Revolutionary Student Movement and distributed at the action:

“Like other police forces in Canada, they exist to protect capital and ensure the stable functioning of the capitalist system. If this means abusing and intimidating communities into submission, fine. If this means lying and spying, no problem. If this means beating up and arresting protesters who denounce this exploitative system, it’s all in a day’s work. We must have no illusions: if the people were to rise up against such a system, the police would be on the front lines against them, and would be happy for the overtime pay.”

Furthermore, the RCMP is an army of occupation of indigenous lands and peoples. This function continues into the present day, suspended only in Ontario, Québec and Newfoundland, where provincial police departments have taken over and put their jackboots on the necks of the indigenous people in their jurisdictions. This colonial function is horrendously illustrated in the outright neglect by the RCMP of the epidemic of missing and murdered aboriginal women, which they refuse to investigate, much less solve. And how could they? To remedy a crime of settler-colonialism requires that settler-colonialism be abolished, which in turn would require the abolition—in fact, the smashing—of the RCMP itself.

Finally, the RCMP is a domestic intelligence apparatus for political repression. Much like the FBI and NSA of the United States, the RCMP also exists to keep tabs on, disrupt and repress people and organizations who oppose the current state of affairs. If you’ve ever spoken out against imperialist war, capitalist exploitation, racist violence, or colonial occupation, the RCMP wants to know about it. And if they have their way, they will. If you’re upset about rising unemployment, growing personal debt, falling wages and failing social services, the RCMP is your enemy because they work tirelessly to protect the capitalist system, the system that causes all of these problems. They understand this fact and will do what they can to arrest, jail, frame or discredit anyone who opposes capitalism.

This is not just the legacy of the RCMP, but rather remains to this day the very purpose of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. They are here to crush all the revolutionary (even non-revolutionary) aspirations of the oppressed. It is with this understanding that the Revolutionary Student Movement says: “Close the barn door! Keep the pigs out!” We must show that the police are unwelcome on campus. In order to do so, we must take the campus out of the hands of capitalists and make it a site of class struggle!

PCR-RCP article found here

Join RSM for a Demo to Preserve the Transitional Year Programme (TYP)

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Transition to Expansion: U of T, Hands off the TYP
Town Hall Meeting with Cheryl Regehr
Monday November 18th
12 pm
Galbraith Building, room 248
35 St. George Street

The Transitional Year Programme Preservation Alliance, which the RSM has been participating in, has been meeting in recent months to discuss our concerns around proposed changes to the Transitional Year Programme (TYP), including the University recommendation of amalgamation of the TYP with the Woodsworth Bridging Program, and the reallocation of the TYP from 49 St. George Street to 123 St. George Street. Students have brought forward issues and concerns regarding the above proposals over the past year, in addition to concerns over cuts to TYP faculty, staff, and programme, i.e. concerns regarding the lack of financial resources.

Students and Alumni of the Programme, as well as University of Toronto community members, have serious concerns about the relocation of the TYP from 49 St. George Street to 123 St. George Street. After conducting a survey of current TYP students, results show the proposed building for the programme’s relocation is not adequate for the needs of the current students. First, there is a very obvious concern regarding the physical accessibility of the proposed building and its impact on inclusiveness with regard to future/incoming TYP students. Secondly, students in the TYP also expressed the need to maintain adequate space for faculty offices, a child friendly environment and a kitchen, which is currently provided at 49 St. George Street. Furthermore, as the programme has deep roots in the wider community, a decent space for student study groups and meetings will be necessary.

The Boundless Campaign is supposed to include access and equity. The University of Toronto loves to parade around the TYP until it comes to preserving the program, let alone expanding it. Shame on the University! As part of the Boundless campaign, they plan to move the Transitional Year Programme from its current location at 49 St. George Street in order to build the Centre for Engineering Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Who is this campaign boundless for? We want boundless expansion, and we want the university to explain why the TYP must sacrifice their space for the University’s boundless, capitalist program? The program’s budget has been frozen this year, and has faced cuts in recent years to staff and its resources.

Join us at this town hall on Monday, November 18th to strategize about how to fight for the TYP and its space. There will be a demo afterward.