(Excerpts from the Keynote address to the 39th Convention of the Communist Party of Canada, delivered on May 17 by Party Leader Liz Rowley on behalf of the Central Executive Committee.)
Our Party will be 98 years old 11 days from now – a party whose history is intertwined with the history of working class and people’s struggle across Canada – through periods of legality and illegality – through advances and retreats. This is the party that offers a real future to working people and youth fighting for a better life, fighting for fundamental change, for social and economic emancipation – for working class political power – for socialism!
To the working class and the working people of Canada we say: Capitalism is the cause. Socialism is the answer. As Lenin said more than 100 years ago, there is no rung on the ladder of social development between capitalism and socialism. There is no ‘third way’. There is only the working class struggle for emancipation, for an end to the dictatorship of capital, for the liberation of humanity.
Or, as Rosa Luxemburg put it: Socialism or barbarism – that is the choice. National and international developments leading up to our convention corroborate the truth – and the urgency – of this statement today.
US imperialism’s gangland efforts to take control of the world, overthrowing governments, threatening to annihilate whole countries, starving whole populations; murdering, torturing, imprisoning and assassinating all who resist – this is the real face of capitalism – of imperialism today. It is the same face as European and Japanese imperialism, which are equally ruthless in their pursuit of greater and greater profits, at enormous costs to the world’s peoples, to sovereignty and independence of states and peoples, to peace, security and environmental justice.
We note in particular the strivings of the European Union, hand in glove with US imperialism to stop the movement for democracy and fundamental social change in Sudan. Mass protests and demonstrations against the dictator Omar Al Bashir began in December and continue up to the present – now focused on a struggle against a military government that has taken power after the dictator was brought down in April…
In the past few months, the Trudeau government has tied Canada ever more tightly into active duty in NATO and in US efforts to overthrow the democratically elected government of Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela. Canada’s filthy role in this unending war on the people and government of Venezuela, was to form the Lima Group of comprised of Latin American fascists and the far right, plus the US and Canada, to provide political cover for the attempted coup d’etat organized in the USA with the support of reaction inside Venezuela… Despite the many threats and provocations delivered by Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland on behalf of Canadian and US imperialism – the people, the government and the armed forces in Venezuela have held firm, and imperialism has so far been rebuffed… We say to the people and government of Venezuela – we are with you! And we will continue to demand that the Canadian government reverse course, end its collusion with US imperialism to overthrow the Maduro government, dissolve the Lima Group, and respect international law and the national sovereignty and independence that is Venezuela’s right.
We also stand shoulder to shoulder with the heroic people of Palestine, who continue to struggle against Israeli aggression including the most recent deadly attacks. We condemn Tory leader Andrew Scheer’s outrageous election pledge to move Canada’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This is a clear provocation aimed to escalate the current crisis, and also a pitch to Zionist voters in Canada for their support in the October election. We demand an end to the occupation of Palestine, restoration of the 1967 borders and the creation of a viable Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, and with the right of return to all Palestinians forced to leave since 1948.
We stand with the people of Yemen who continue to die of starvation and are massacred by the illegal Saudi war which Canada continues to support with its arms trade.
The last few months has seen US imperialism turn its sights on Cuba, with Trump attacking Cuba as part of a “Troika of Tyranny” together with Venezuela, and Nicaragua whose progressive government is fighting for re-election against a US-backed and US-financed opposition… To its shame, the Trudeau government has gone along for the ride, cutting its staff and reducing services at the Canadian Embassy in Cuba.
Canadian Communists stand with the people and the government of Cuba to demand an end to the illegal economic blockade, an end to the illegal Helms Burton Act and its extra-territorial reach, an end to US provocations and regime change aimed at Cuba, and the normalization of US and Canadian diplomatic and economic relations with Cuba.
The Trudeau government has also signed on as a facilitator for US plans to extradite Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou for trial, though she has broken no laws in Canada, and no international laws either… Canada has no legal cause to arrest and hold the Huawei CFO for extradition to the US, and should release her now. US laws and sanctions do not apply in Canada, or in any other country. This is extra-territorial, and illegal under the UN Charter and Rule of Law.
What is clear from all of these developments is that the Trump administration is itching to go to war. And the Canadian government, under a Liberal administration, is a willing advocate and supporter of war and regime change, of NATO and vastly increased military spending. This is a recipe for global catastrophe..
Developments in Canada this spring have also been disturbing. Tory governments have been elected in Alberta, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island, joining Tory governments in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and the right-wing CAQ in Quebec…
The federal election campaign will be a watershed election, and a volatile electorate will decide the outcome on October 21st. The greatest danger to working people is the possible election of a Tory majority government, with as little as 40% of the popular vote in a first-past-the-post electoral system. A Tory majority would unleash an anti-labour, anti-people government like the Ontario Tories, with strong ties to social conservative and fascist organizations, on the whole country.
The consequences would include a major assault on labour and democratic rights, on social and civil rights, on the rights of women, immigrants, racialized and Indigenous peoples, the LGBTQ community, and the poor and the unemployed among others. It would mean a foreign policy of war and reaction even greater than that delivered by the Liberals. It would mean mass privatization, de-regulation, corporate tax cuts, and a new assault on wages, pensions, working conditions, labour rights and standards, and on the Rand Formula – the closed shop in Canada. It would mean free range for energy corporations involved in fossil fuel extraction, pipeline construction and transport, fracking, and the construction of megaprojects like the Site C dam in BC.
We are not indifferent to the outcome of this election and we will do our best to expose the Tories’ and the Liberals’ policies, and the danger they pose to working people and to peace and environmental security.
We will fight for the election of a people’s majority in Parliament, committed to deliver a People’s Agenda for urgently needed social and economic change, including full employment policies, higher wages and living standards, expanded social programs and public services, including universal public childcare and expansion of Medicare to include pharmacare, dental, vision, and mental health care, and long term care. We will campaign to make education free from cradle to grave. We will fight to put curbs on corporate power to prevent companies like General Motors and Chrysler from moving their operations out of Canada in order to slash wages in Canada, and in the US and Mexico. We will fight to nationalize them if they do not comply, and utilize their plants and equipment to build a Canadian car that is affordable, environmentally sustainable, and electric. We will campaign to build mass public transit and inter-urban rail as part of new transportation plan for Canada. We will fight to build a million units of affordable social housing and create millions of jobs from coast to coast in construction and value added manufacturing.
We will campaign to put the energy industry, the banks and insurance companies under public ownership and democratic control. We will push to double corporate taxes, reinstate the capital tax, raise the capital gains tax to 100%, and close corporate tax loopholes and deferrals, while we eliminate taxes on incomes under $40,000, axe the HST, and introduce progressive tax reform based on ability to pay. We will fight to slash military spending by 75%, to get out of NATO and NORAD, and to invest in civilian spending. We will adopt a foreign policy of peace and disarmament, a trade policy that’s multi-lateral and mutually beneficial. We’ll close the tarsands, guarantee the jobs of all those currently employed there at comparable pay rates, and develop renewable energy as part of a publicly owned and democratically controlled energy and resource sector..
We will fight for a new, equal and voluntary partnership of Indigenous Peoples, Quebec, Acadians, and English-speaking Canada, recognizing the right of each nation to self-determination up to and including the right to secession. We will negotiate the just settlement of land claims, and make massive investments in Indigenous communities to raise living standards, build housing and infrastructure, create jobs, and build schools, hospitals, medical, social and recreational services and facilities wherever they are needed. We will enshrine labour, democratic, civil and social rights in the Constitution, and give municipalities constitutional status and statutory funding. We will introduce mixed member proportional representation and guarantee the equality rights of women, disabled people, LGBTQ persons, and racialized peoples. We will prosecute hate groups as criminal organizations.
We will fight for these policies now and through the election, and after the election as well… And we will fight for unity and action around these policies in the labour and people’s movements before and after the election because it will take a mass struggle by a united labour and people’s movement to win them.
There is no party currently in Parliament which consistently defends the interests of the working class and working people, and it is unlikely that this will change in the October election… A vote for the Communist Party is the only vote that is clearly for peace and disarmament, for climate justice, for jobs, democracy, equality, and sovereignty.
This is the party fighting for fundamental social change. This is Canada’s party of socialism.