Minority government: Working people can block austerity through mass mobilization

The unwanted election campaign called by the Liberals to secure a majority government has resulted in another Liberal minority and almost no change to the balance of forces in Parliament.

Working people responded with justified anger, denying both the Liberals and the Conservatives the majority each was so anxious to secure. The competition between these two Big Business parties ignored the very real consequences of the capitalist economic crisis: mass unemployment, the housing crisis, rising prices on food and fuel, growing household debt and falling real wages and living standards that millions of working people face every day. These parties also ignored the urgent need for decisive action on climate change, the threat of global nuclear war, racism, genocide and the recognition of the right of nations to self-determination.

And neither ruling class party has a comprehensive plan to strengthen our battered health care system to better deal with the continuing pandemic plaguing the country, to counter the dangerous influence of the anti-scientific pandemic-denier crowd and to take real action against unscrupulous profiteers exploiting the crisis for their own benefit.

The message from voters was clear: Parliament must take action on these issues now and put a recovery for working people at the top of the legislative agenda. A minority government makes this much more achievable if the labour and people’s movements unite to pressure the government through mass independent political action. In the context of the austerity policies that both parties will roll out shortly under pressure from Big Business, this is important.

Shamefully, the NDP refused to say that it would not support a Tory minority government, when asked in the run-up to election day, which likely convinced many progressive electors to vote strategically for the Liberals as the only way to block the Tories.

In Quebec, voters rejected the endorsement of the Tories by CAQ Premier Francois Legault. The nationalist Bloc Québécois’s support remains stable with 34 seats, reflecting the continuing refusal of the capitalist parties in English-speaking Canada, including the NDP and the Greens, to recognise Quebec’s right to national self-determination up to and including secession.

The Greens managed to hang on to two seats, despite the party’s public disintegration, including the fourth-place finish of its leader, Annamie Paul, in her third run at election in Toronto Centre.

The Communist Party’s 26 candidates campaigned hard for peace and disarmament, climate justice and an economic recovery centred on full employment, rising wages and living standards, EI reform, expanded social programs and expanded national, labour, social and democratic rights, progressive tax reform based on ability to pay and nationalization of key sectors of the economy including energy and pharmaceuticals.

The Communist Party received its highest vote since 2000. Because of strategic voting, this didn’t fully reflect the growth in the Party’s size and influence that has occurred in the last two years. An important objective in this election was to build the Communist Party’s political base and influence as well as support for its policies and its campaign for a People’s Coalition which could unite all those supporting a people’s agenda and a people’s recovery in common action. This is an objective that the Party will continue to work for after the election.

The biggest victory on election day was voters’ collective action to shut out the racist, anti-immigrant People’s Party, denying them a single seat in Parliament despite a cross-Canada campaign that was exceptionally well funded for a fledgling organization. If the PPC’s 2019 funding model was replicated, a third party called “True North Strong and Free” which received a single donation of $60,000 from a mining company executive that paid for PPC billboards attacking immigrants and backing PPC leader Maxime Bernier two years ago, will be the source of huge donations this time as well. Third parties are not subject to the same financial restrictions as political parties, making them a perfect vehicle for corporate funding of the PPC and others on the far right. For this reason alone, electoral reform continues to be an urgent issue.

Though it was shut out of Parliament, the PPC amassed over 800,000 votes across the country and was behind anti-vaccine demonstrations at hospitals, schools and political events that brought together white supremacists, Islamophobes, misogynists, climate change deniers, the gun lobby, anti-communists and fascists to threaten hospital workers, patients and political opponents to the left of the Conservative party.

The PPC is the progeny of corporate power and unbridled capitalist greed. The capitalist economic crisis has birthed this unholy alliance which shows every sign of continued organizing on a platform of bigotry and hate in the post-election period. This is a serious threat to democracy in addition to civil, labour and equality rights as well as to the wellbeing of working people overall. Blocking and exposing the ultra-right PPC will be important in the post-election period if we are to avoid the crisis created by the ultra-right and the Republican Party now gripping the US. Uniting the left and democratic forces in a People’s Coalition will be decisive in this struggle.

The election result prevented Big Business from imposing its will – unconstrained – on Parliament and on the country. However, this breathing spell will be short lived unless the labour and democratic movements mobilize to oppose the corporate austerity agenda that is just around the corner – and that has the support of both Liberals and Tories and possibly others as well. This austerity agenda is also supported by the PPC which will be campaigning for it outside of Parliament while simultaneously attacking the government and those to the left of it, including the Communist Party, with anti-communist lies and slurs.

This is the challenge ahead.

Central Executive Committee

Communist Party of Canada


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