Canadian Communist leader: Extreme right danger looms over fall election
Members of the Communist Party of Ontario participate in the Toronto Pride Parade, June 2018. | Photo: CPC

Developments in Canada this spring have been disturbing. Tory (Conservative) 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-labor, anti-people government like Doug Ford’s Ontario Tories, with strong ties to social conservative and fascist organizations, on the whole country.

The consequences would include a major assault on labor 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 already delivered by Justin Trudeau’s Liberals.

It would mean mass privatization, de-regulation, corporate tax cuts, and a new assault on wages, pensions, working conditions, labor rights and standards, and on the Rand Formula—the closed union 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 British Columbia.

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, the U.S., 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 a 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 Harmonized Sales Tax, and introduce progressive tax reform based on ability to pay.

Communist Party of Canada leader Elizabeth Rowley. | Photo: CPC

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 multilateral 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 labor, 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 labor and people’s movements before and after the election because it will take a mass struggle by a united labor 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, though, 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.

This article is excerpted from the keynote address to the 39th Convention of the Communist Party of Canada, delivered in Toronto on May 17, 2019.


Elizabeth Rowley
Elizabeth Rowley

Elizabeth Rowley is a politician, writer, and political activist. Elected as the first woman to lead the Communist Party of Canada, Rowley has been active in the fight for public education and healthcare, local democracy, and for labor and civil rights. She writes for People's Voice, Canada's leading socialist newspaper.