Student's will be mobilizing
at over 50 campuses across
the country on Wednesday.
Students today are facing a corporate steamroller in the form of massive tuition increases and high youth unemployment like our generation has never seen before. The only way forward for the students is to develop a united fightback. The cross-Canada Day of Action, organized by the Canadian Federation of Students, is an excellent step in that direction and has the full support of the Communist Party of Canada and the Young Communist League.
“EDUCATION IS A RIGHT” NOT A PRIVILEGE!
Canada is one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Despite the economic crisis, Canadian corporate profits are increasing.
The Harper Conservative government is spending billions on the military and war. Yet there is no money for education.
It would take approximately $6 billion to pay for all undergraduates’ tuition, while Harper is now spending over $20 billion (and rising) on the military each year.
Why are the people being forced to pay for the economic crisis? This crisis was not created by young people, or students, or workers. It was created by systemic problems inherent in the capitalist system, which is also environmentally unsustainable.
STUDENTS ARE JUSTIFIED IN BEING ANGRY AND PROTESTING
All students are being gouged. At almost every college, trade school and university campus across the country, tuition is being jacked-up. Students are forced to run up huge ‘debt sentences.’
Aggressive privatization on campuses is also severely compromising the quality of education and student services, independent research, campus democracy, as well as decient wages and working conditions for all campus workers.
THERE ARE NO JOBS FOR GRADS
More working class youth are excluded from school and left kicking stones – unemployed, or in low-paid work without union protection – especially young women, aboriginal youth and youth from racialized communities. Youth unemployment is far higher than any other age group.
Big business needs an educated workforce. But the corporations are not willing to pay the bill through corporate taxes. Instead, they are forcing students and working families to pay using credit cards, static wages or shrinking savings.
If they miss a pay cheque, even for just a week, 57% of Canadians would be in financial difficulty with rent, bills, groceries, etc.
ACCESS TO EDUCATION IS A CLASS ISSUE
Education is a concerns of all working-class people. And together, students and the people can again pull open wide the doors of higher learning that have been slammed shut in our faces.
Tuition fees should be frozen, reduced and then abolished. Education should be free for all.
The Young Communist League is proposing a Charter of Youth Rights guaranteeing the right to education as well as the right to good-quality employment, full equality, democracy, leisure, justice for Aboriginal peoples and Quebec, a healthy environment, and peace.
STUDENTS MUST KEEP UP THE PRESSURE
More mass mobilizations on and off-campus, sit-ins and strike action are needed. Mass struggle and cooperation between the students and other movements, especially labour, is the only way forward that can effectively defeat reactionary governments and win accessible education.
By marching in the streets on Feb. 1st, the student’s are joining a struggle that needs to grow and deepen.
Now is the time to act – and keep going.
Such an approach can succeed, escalating the struggles and weaving together all the threads of resistance.
The Occupy movement proved again that young people in Canada are not complacent and apathetic but can audaciously take on the 1%.
OTHER STUDENTS HAVE OVERCOME GREATER CHALLENGES!
Last year, students helped topple the Mubarak and Ben Ali regimes of Egypt and Tunisia. Also, in Chile, hundreds of thousands of students have been marching in the streets demanding a new constitution guaranteeing accessible education. They have been joined en masse by the labour movement and other people’s forces.
The biggest student mobilizations in Canada’s history took place in Quebec in 2005 which saw weeks of growing mobilization and strikes for education.
At the same time as students in English-speaking Canada are marching, hundreds of thousands of Quebec students will be voting to use the strongest weapon of the students to put moral and political pressure on the government – a general student strike, shutting down virtually all campuses.
TIME TO TURN UP THE HEAT ON THE TORIES
These student struggles in Quebec and the rest of Canada are connected because in Ottawa all students face the Conservatives who are trying to smash basic democratic, civil and labour rights with their agenda of police, prisons, poverty and war.
Take the mass arrests at the Toronto G20 summit, or last year’s evictions of Occupy, attempting to silence dissent.
Take the Tories’ “omnibus attack on human rights” crime bill, or their tearing up of Canada’s Kyoto commitments.
The Harper government are also denying the right to strike, like they did with the Postal Workers.
Last week the Harper Tories announced deeper and quicker budget cuts and more ‘major transformations.’
Stopping this attack and bringing down the Harper Conservative government is the first major break towards a people’s alternative agenda.
CONNECT THE ‘EDUCATION IS A RIGHT’ DEMAND WITH GREATER UNITY AND MILITANCY
The way forward for students after the Day of Action, therefore, is to re-double our efforts and find every tactic that brings in thousands more students as well as labour unions, Aboriginal activists, community groups, women’s organizations in a powerful, united campaign targeting the federal government.
This is also the best way to win the battle of ideas against right-wing students who have been crusading to break apart the CFS and weaken student unity.
A ‘PSE’ ACT WOULD BE A STEP FORWARD
The promising idea of a federal Post-Secondary Education Act (PSE Act) proposed by the CFS, the Canadian University Teachers Association and now the New Democratic Party (NDP) would make education a protected right like Medicare.
But a PSE Act must go further than currently proposed – it must have ‘teeth’ and be enforced; restore and massively increase all federal PSE funding; ban ancillary fees; impliment a system of grants instead of loans, reverse campus privatization; lift the cap from and then expand Aboriginal education spending; and treat Aboriginal peoples and Quebec on an equal basis with English-speaking Canada, allowing these nations full control over their post-secondary education on the basis of their sovereignty and self-determination as nations.
STUDENT STRUGGLES SHOULD OPEN A BROAD DEMOCRATIC DEBATE ABOUT FREE EDUCATION
The Day of Action, the PSE Act and the campaign “Access to Education is a Right” therefor must be part of a real alterative project for a fundamentally different direction for education in society, based on people’s needs not corporate greed, starting with freezing, reducing and then abolishing tuition fees and opening the question of a new kind of emancipatory education.
This struggle will not be advanced just by lobbying and press conferences, or isolated local battles.
Nor is electing the NDP an effective plan. The NDP’s track record is inconsistent; the Manitoba and Nova Scotia NDP are underfunding PSE and raising tuition.
Only persistent work, a powerful coalition, and visible resistance on our streets, campuses, and workplaces can make public calls for access to education (and other progressive demands) resonate in parliament.
WE DEMAND A CHARTER OF YOUTH RIGHTS
A Charter guaranteeing the rights of youth to education, democracy, employment, peace, a healthy environment, equality, leisure and sports, other demands could be a platform to bring together the threads of resistance of the youth and student movement, and unite in a powerful force, taking on policies that push for real change and confront the system, pushing for a counter-offensive for the rights of youth against big business.
The struggles students are making today can grow, to help bring about social progress towards a people’s alternative agenda, making a sharp break with current policies. That struggle can also open the door to revolutionary transformation.
FOR A SOCIALIST CANADA!
Big business says socialism is finished. In reality, it is the capitalist system, based on exploitation and oppression, which has no future. History is on the side of freedom, peace, ecology, and the people. Only socialism makes the needs and aspirations of the people its highest priority.
Only socialism can put people before profit. And only socialism can use the benefits of science and technology for the well-being of all Canadians, not for the enrichment of a few, and not for waging war. Socialism is a real advance towards true democracy.
This is the perspective of the Communist Party of Canada and the Young Communist League.
Find our more information about the 18th World Festival of Youth and Students which is the largest gathering of anti-imperialist youth and students in the world! Click here to visit the campaign website.
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