Oppose Ontario’s new anti-communist school curriculum!

PV Ontario Bureau  

At the end of November, Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced that “the rise of extremism, including Communism and Marxism, are direct threats to our democracy, social cohesion and values as Canadians.”

He cited this supposed threat as the reason for mandating public schools to teach about “the horrors of state-sponsored persecution of Ukrainians in the Holodomor,” referring to the discredited right-wing narrative that the famine in Ukraine was intentionally created. Lecce said that the new curriculum would ensure that “all students learn about the adverse consequences of extreme political ideologies like those from Stalin’s totalitarian communist regime.”

Students in Ontario will now be force fed the misinformation spewed by the right-wing Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC), which the Ontario government quoted glowingly along with its media release on the new curriculum. Lecce also announced $400,000 in funding to the mobile “Holodomor Mobile Classroom,” a massive recreational vehicle which will visit Ontario public schools.

The UCC is a major promoter of the Holodomor (famine-as-genocide) campaign, which is designed to obfuscate their own history of Nazi-collaboration and Ukrainian ultra-right nationalism.

It is true that millions died in the famine in Ukraine and other parts of the Soviet Union in 1932-1933. The tragedy was the result of both natural phenomena, namely drought, and the unstable political situation in the new Soviet republic. But it is a fallacy to claim that there was intentional genocide of Ukrainians by the Soviet authorities. In fact, life expectancy rose from 36.6 years old in Tsarist Ukraine in 1900 to 50 years old in Soviet Ukraine by 1939.

The Ukrainian ultra-right, which has carried out a bloody fight against progressive sections of the Ukrainian community in Canada for decades, has been pushing a “double genocide” theory which describes ultra-right Ukrainian nationalists as heroes who fought both the “Soviet genocide” and the Nazis.

This narrative falsifies history. Ukrainian nationalists were key allies of the Nazis, and many were active participants in the holocaust against Ukrainian, Polish and Russian Jews. The “double genocide” theory also denies the heroism of 4.5 million Ukrainians who helped defeat Nazism as part of the Soviet Red Army. This same historical revisionism led to politicians giving multiple standing ovations to Nazi veteran Yaroslav Hunka in Parliament last fall.

Ontario Communist Party leader Drew Garvie notes that, rather than for reasons of a mistaken historical record, Stephen Lecce’s new curriculum is being advanced for ideological purposes. “As the exploitation, oppression, war and environmental destruction inherent in capitalism are becoming more obvious to more and more Ontarians, the Conservative government hopes to convince students that there is no alternative. The Tories refuse to provide real affordable housing for people, they are privatizing hospitals, and they are pushing minimal wage increases for workers which can’t even keep up with basic living expenses. So, they have a real interest in promoting the idea that socialism is not a viable alternative.”

“If the Ford government was sincere about teaching Ontarian students about genocide, it should start with the genocide that was and is being carried out in Ontario against Indigenous people,” says Garvie. “When Canada’s genocide is taught in Ontario classrooms, it is often presented as a mistake which ended with the closure of the last residential school. The truth is that the Canadian government continues to carry out policies resulting in genocide, including the ongoing theft of land and Indigenous children from their communities. The Ford government’s own record in ignoring Indigenous sovereignty in Northern Ontario to favour the expansion of mining is only one example.”

Garvie warns that the new curriculum isn’t just an anti-communist attack but is also an attack on democracy. “We have seen many examples in history, including in Canadian history, where attacks on the Communist Party and communists result in the repression of democratic and progressive forces and the rise of reaction. We call on unions, community organizations and all democratic-minded Ontarians to fight against this reactionary ideological offensive.”

[Photo: Christine Hogarth X]

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