Canadian, Cuba, Democracy

Open Letter to NDP


January 10, 2024


Jagmeet Singh

House of Commons

Ottawa, ON  K1A 0A6


The New Democratic Party of Canada

300-279 Laurier West

Ottawa, Ontario

K1P 5J9


Dear Mr. Singh and Sirs/Mesdames:

Re: Canadian government policies toward Cuba

Canada has a long-time supportive and special connection with Cuba that dates back to Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s personal friendship with Fidel Castro. This connection has become, in good part, a people-to-people relationship as there were over a million Canadian visitations to Cuba each year prior to the COVID pandemic.  Almost all have a positive image of Cuba and the remarkably friendly Cuban people.

We believe there are important lessons that can be learned from the positive characteristics of the Cuban people as seen by their non-existent drug problems, low levels of racism and low crime rates. That is Cuba. It is a sharing caring society all in part resulting from the progressive nature of their universally accessible education system and a strong preventative all-inclusive medical system.

Cuba’s commitment to internationalism is reflected in the Cuban medical brigades providing medical services, wherever needed in times of crisis and by training doctors, free-of-charge, from poor areas around the world, in its legendary Latin American School of Medicine. Cuba has reportedly saved over a million lives in its sixty years of international medical brigades. Cuba’s international solidarity is also displayed by providing Cuban developed COVID vaccines free of charge or at cost to poorer countries.Starting in 1990 Cuba took in and provided free-of-charge cancer treatment for over 18000 children, mainly from Ukraine, radiation victims of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

Cuba is a democracy. It may not totally coincide with our form of democracy but there is no reason why it should. It has an electoral system where individuals, not political parties, are elected to their governing bodies, not unlike our civic elections.  It is the people’s choice to support or not support candidates nominated to run in each constituency as they do every five years by going to the polls with voting turnouts above 70%. The Cuban government, within their limited means, has delivered social programs and services unseen in other developing and developed countries despite the scarcities and human struggles caused by the U.S. embargo and sanctions meant to cause hunger and desperation in order to have the people turn against their government.

Nothing illustrates the participatory nature of their system better than the 2022 national referendum which resulted in the adoption of the new Families Code. Its adoption came about after months of nationwide public consultation and many amendments culminating with a two-thirds majority in favour, thus, safeguarding the rights of all individuals. This Families Code is seen as the most progressive legislation in Latin America, if not the world.

Repeatedly Canada has expressed support for Cuba by voting at the UN General Assembly for motions calling for the U.S. to end its sixty years-plus embargo and blockade of Cuba which is the cause of immense suffering by the Cuban people. Today there is an increasing awareness, amongst those of us who endeavour to foster Canadian Cuban friendship and diplomacy, that political efforts are being undertaken by dissident groupings, funded by foreign sources such as the U.S. National Endowment for Democracy (NED), to have Canada change its long-standing policy of supporting Cuba to one of critical hostility in line with Washington’s decades-long efforts for regime change. They have presented to the Canadian people a falsified/distorted image of Cuba as a dictatorship subjugating its people to hardship and police brutality. This is far from the truth and Cuba continues on its own path of development and participatory democracy fighting to overcome the cruel and inhuman embargo/sanctions/blockade against that country.

Any Canadian adherence to the wishes of right-wing Cuban extremists will make it an outlier in the eyes of the world community. This is not a place where Canada would want to be at this juncture of history. Canada’s support for Cuba is one instance where Canada is displaying an independent line from U.S. foreign policy and its criminal extraterritorial blockade of Cuba. We applaud this and request the NDP to unequivocally challenge any deviance into compliance with illegal and oppressive policies against Cuba by the U.S. government.

In 2021 the federal NDP adopted a very strong statement, by Jack Harris, (see below) in support of Cuba calling for the repeal of the U.S. embargo/blockade of Cuba. At this time the Canadian Cuban Friendship Association (CCFA) Niagara is hoping that the New Democratic Party will stand by that statement, speak out in Parliament and present an open policy in support of Cuba and against imperialist voices seeking to subjugate Cuba to U.S. control.

We hope to hear your response to our proposals and outline any plans for action in the near future to further these aims.

Sincerely yours,

Dave Thomas Sr., Chair, Canadian Cuban Friendship Association (CCFA)-Niagara, 1760 Ridge Rd. N., Ridgeway, ON, L0S 1N0


Ron Brydges, member, Canadian Cuban Friendship Association (CCFA)-Niagara, 23 Almond Street, St. Catharines, ON  L2T 1G1


Lisa Makarchuk, member, Canadian Cuban Friendship Association (CCFA)-Niagara, 33 Harbour Square, Ste. 409, Toronto, ON M5J 2G2



Jack Harris, NDP critic for Foreign Affairs, issued the following statement:

“As the people of Cuba take to the streets to protest the lack of access to basic necessities, including food and medicine, New Democrats affirm our support for the fundamental rights of freedom of expression and assembly and renew our call to end the US embargo of Cuba that has led to shortages of essential goods.

For decades Cubans have suffered untold hardship as a result of the US embargo on Cuba, which is unfair and needs to end. As a friend of both the US and Cuba, Canada can and must play a more active role in putting the necessary pressure on the US to finally end their sanctions on Cuba.

Despite calls from the UN to wave all international sanctions during the COVID-19 pandemic, former US President Trump placed additional sanctions on Cuba in January 2021, further restricting access to fuel, medical supplies and humanitarian assistance. While countries around the world struggle to keep up with the devastating impact of COVID-19, the unilateral trade embargo has exacerbated the burden on Cuba’s health care system and economy. This has caused the people significant suffering and according to a recent Oxfam Canada report, has had a disproportionate impact on women.

In April 2020, I wrote a letter to the Foreign Affairs Minister calling on the Government of Canada to call on the US to ease their embargo on Cuba and allow all medical supplies and humanitarian assistance into the country. Yet, the Liberal Government has remained silent on the issue.”




Author: Ron Brydges

Born on Vancouver Island and raised as a child in Prince Rupert and as a teenager in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. Graduated, not without struggle, from Central Collegiate High School. Got my first post graduate job at a steel and pipe mill in Regina, Returned to B.C. and worked in a fabrication shop, a consulting firm, a northern mine and then went east and lived and worked in Toronto for a machinery manufacturer. Moved to St. Catharines where i worked on contract for GM. Was discharged at 62 and took up writing. Now divorced with two daughters and four grandchildren. There was a life between these lines and some of it will come out in my blogs.