With a spirit of combativeness and unity, the Young Communist League (YCL-LJC) held an extraordinary online convention on August 22 and 23. The COVID-19 pandemic had forced the YCL-LJC to postpone its 28th Central Convention, initially scheduled for June. However, the deepening crisis triggered by the pandemic, combined with the need to integrate a new generation of cadres into the leadership, prompted the outgoing Central Committee to organize the extraordinary convention.
In his opening remarks, outgoing General Secretary Adrien Welsh underlined that the convention came “at the right time,” as the ruling class prepares to make young people pay for an economic disaster they did not create. Welsh insisted that the pandemic did not cause this situation, but that it is the direct consequence of a capitalist system that has been in crisis for a long time. He noted that, for a long time, Communists were the only voices warning of such a catastrophe.
“This crisis is multifaceted. The growing aggressiveness of imperialism and the danger of globalized war is the product of the crisis of capitalism,” Welsh said. “The environmental crisis, which takes root in the exploitation of the working class and of nature, is also the product of the crisis of capitalism. The crisis of bourgeois democracy, illustrated both by the rise of the extreme right here and elsewhere in the world and by the attacks against the various democratic rights (racism, chauvinism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, etc.) is also the product of the crisis of capitalism. Naturally, the current economic crisis and the possible Depression are its salient expression today.”
Most of the convention was dedicated to discussion of the political resolution which, in addition to analyzing the current situation, proposes prospects for ongoing and emerging struggles. The young communists’ role is put forward bases of unity for strengthening the fightback. This includes the struggle of young workers, whether unionized or not, which is imperative in the current situation – two out of five young people have either lost their jobs or have seen the majority of their working hours cut. Other key struggles are the fight for peace and international solidarity, for environmental justice, for expanded public services, for stronger democratic rights – especially for women, 2S/LGBTiQ+ and racialized people – and for the national rights of Indigenous peoples, Quebecers and Acadians.
The delegates also adopted an ambitious action plan which focuses on strengthening the YCL-LJC and its press, to be more visible and engage effectively with youth movements. In line with this, the convention agreed to launch a campaign called, “The youth will not pay for the crisis of capitalism.”
Communist Party of Canada Leader Liz Rowley greeted the convention and stressed the important role that the YCL-LJC will have to play in the resistance against the coming attacks. She also stressed the Communist Party’s ideological, political and organizational support to the YCL-LJC.
The convention elected a new Central Committee of 17 full members and 8 alternates which, in turn, elected a new 5-member Central Executive Committee. Ivan Byard, who was a member of the outgoing Central Committee and the former organizer of the Toronto club, was unanimously elected as incoming General Secretary. He replaces Adrien Welsh, who becomes the new National Secretary of the Parti communiste du Québec (PCQ), after the passing of Pierre Fontaine in May. Welsh remains on the YCL-LJC Central Committee
Finally, the convention celebrated the “graduation” of two longstanding YCL-LJC cadre, Marianne Breton-Fontaine and Drew Garvie. Drew served as the General Secretary between 2014 and 2017 before becoming the Communist Party’s Central Organizer and then its Ontario Provincial Secretary. Marianne was a member of the Central Executive Committee until 2017 and is currently a member of the Communist Party’s Central Committee and the National Committee of the PCQ.
Politically and organizationally stronger, and ready to fight to win, the young communists concluded this extraordinary convention by singing The International and committing themselves to the struggles ahead.
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