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Blockades - not Trudeau’s emergencies act - is the way to deal with far-right

February 14, 2022
After weeks of far-right led convoy protests which have taken over cities and border crossings, working people have had enough and are taking matters into their own hands. 
In Ottawa, the epicentre of the bigot occupation, people mobilized in neighbourhoods around the city to block the convoys. At Bank St and Riverside Ave, the largest blockade, hundreds of people gathered to stop a line of mainly pick up trucks and SUVs. They stayed in place throughout the day demanding that the trucks go home. Eventually the convoy participants were allowed to leave but only if they removed their stickers and flags.
It was a humiliating defeat for the convoy and one that was repeated in many cities. In Edmonton, people set up a blockade and forced the convoy to turn around and not drive the provincial legislature. In Winnipeg, anti-racist activists took over the lawn of the legislature to deny access. There were similar actions in other cities and towns. 
This is how we defeat the far-right. We stop them on the streets. 
There is a thread of liberal thought that wants the police or the military to deal with the convoys and it appears that governments are moving in that direction. Trudeau is now invoking the emergencies act which will give sweeping new powers. But putting more power into the hands of the state will not solve the problem. Whenever new powers are granted to the authorities, they will be used against the left. 
In Toronto, after far right groups began organizing rallies at city hall in 2017 a similar plan to ban them was proposed by the city council. When the motion was made public, however, the first group named and targeted as extremists by the ban was the annual Al Quds day rally for Palestinian rights. 
While there is a real desire to shut down the avenues for the right to grow, we know that the state will not get this job done.  
The obvious collusion between the police and the support given to the far-right by the media and conservative politicians shows whose side they are on. 
Canada is a country that is built on the genocide of Indigenous peoples and the actions of the state itself are what are propagating the racism in our society. Trudeau may say nice things about opposing racists but he then pushes for more attacks on Indigenous land defenders. 
Racism comes from the top of society and those that perpetuate it will not stop it. 
To see an example of how to defeat the far right we need only look to Greece. The anti-fascist group Keerfa was able to defeat Golden Dawn fascists through organizing with immigrant and refugee organizations, the trade unions and the left. This broad mobilization gave confidence to progressive movements and led to demoralization and drop in popularity of the far right. Yes, the courts intervened but the groundwork that really stopped the fascists was laid by the movement. 
A state crackdown won't stop the rise of the far-right. That can only be done with a 2 pronged strategy. As Socialist Tony Cliff stated:
“Our policy of fighting fascism was two-track: attacking the rats and attacking the sewers in which the rats multiply. Fighting the fascists is not enough. One has also to fight the unemployment, low wages and social deprivation that create conditions for the growth of fascism.”
The left in the Canadian state can and must protest these ongoing mobilizations from the right. There are expected counter demonstrations being planned in locations across the country for this Saturday. It is crucial that these events are built and broadened. The majority of people are opposed to the convoys and are looking for a lead. 
That lead is starting to develop. The Ottawa occupations on Sunday were bolstered by the thousands strong union-led demo on Saturday. Unions are now organizing to oppose the attacks on working people that these convoys represent. But that only came about by developing pressure from below. The NDP and the major union federations were largely absent up to that point, doing nothing more than posting strongly worded statements. 
The total absence of a coordinated fightback on key issues confronting workers during the pandemic – from income support to paid sick days to Bill 124 to healthcare funding– has shamefully left the field open for the right to seize the initiative.
We need to build a fighting left that can not only stop the right in this current manifestation but also provide a political alternative for the many thousands who have suffered under the pandemic. That means fighting for proper healthcare funding, taking on bill 124 and campigning for supports for essential workers including paid sick days.
The political polarization that we have been watching over the past number of years is intensifying. The anti-fascist blockades we saw this weekend prove that there are thousands of people who want to fight for a better world. 
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