Our warmest appreciation and thanks to the TKP and KKE for hosting this meeting, and our delegation at this important meeting.
In celebrating the centenary of the Communist International, we also celebrate the contribution of the Communist Party of Canada to the CI following our Party’s decision to join the Communist International and to adopt the 21 points in 1921.
At 98 years of age, our proud history is closely aligned with the history and actions of the international Communist movement, and the struggles of working people all over the world for peace, national and social liberation, and socialism.
Our Party and the struggles of the working class and working people in Canada, have been immeasurably strengthened by our identification with the international Communist movement, and by our participation in the CI and in international gatherings and debates since the Third International concluded in 1943.
Our Party has also been weakened however, by an uncritical reliance on theories and practices developed in some of the largest parties which were not Marxist, and which enabled serious political and ideological errors such as perestroika and glasnost to be widely supported, even replicated, and which had a devastating impact on the Communist and workers’ parties and movements around the globe.
Unity of the Communist and Workers’ Parties is essential today, as we mobilize to defeat imperialism and its fascist protégé, to prevent catastrophic nuclear and conventional war, to head off climate catastrophe, and to move the working class and peoples struggle from the defensive to the offensive.
But it must be a unity of equals which is respectful of the differing objective and subjective conditions which exist in each country, and the differing tactics that may be adopted in consequence. As Lenin said, the road to socialism is not straight like the Nevsky Prospect, but full of zigs and zags. This is truer than ever today, as imperialism continues to expand its reach while increasingly relying on reaction, fascism and war to satisfy its insatiable appetite for profits and global domination. Our strategy is socialism, but the road to socialism will not be identical in every country because the conditions are not identical.
The unity we seek must take into account the specifics of the struggle in each country, and the necessity of a politically conscious working class to take up the struggle for socialism in their own country, and for a global transition from capitalism to socialism.
In 2019, the danger of war, reaction and climate crisis is extreme. In Canada, a federal election will take place Monday, with both leading parties committed to NATO and NORAD, and vastly increased military spending, austerity, free trade, privatization, deregulation, corporate tax cuts, and increasing attacks on labour, civil, social and democratic rights.
Free trade agreements such as the new USMCA deal with the US, Mexico and Canada, and CETA – the Canada-Europe trade agreement, and the TPP involving Canada, the US, and 11 other countries, are stripping Canada of manufacturing and secondary industry and the good jobs that go with them, as well as the social gains won by working people since 1945. These capitalist agreements are not about trade, but are corporate constitutions which strip away national sovereignty and independence.
Falling real wages and living standards, combined with growing unemployment and under-employment, precarious work, a flourishing GIG economy, a housing crisis, and a household debt crisis that rates Canada number 1 on the OECD list of countries with astronomical levels of household debt – these are the conditions that could lead Canada into the next global capitalist recession.
And they are the conditions for growth of the far-right fascist and populist movements that have grown up in Europe, the Americas, and elsewhere, and that are vying for recruits and support in Canada as well as spewing their hate speech and carrying through their acts of hatred against Muslims, Jews, immigrants, refugees, women and LGBTQ peoples, racialized and Indigenous Peoples.
Weaknesses in the organized labour movement have obstructed mobilization of the trade union and peoples’ movements at a crucial moment when mass action to repel and defeat the right – in the elections and in the streets – is vital. Right-wing social democratic leadership of the trade union movement, combined with a deep split in the Canadian Labour Congress involving the loss of the biggest private sector union in the country, is the main cause.
The unprecedented attack by the President and top officers of the CLC on Vice President Donald Lafleur is evidence of this. Lafleur’s crime was to accept an invitation to attend a WFTU conference on Syria, and to tell media that he supported removal of sanctions. Before he was even off the plane, he was viciously attacked by CLC President Hassan Yussuf on national media, and then placed on “administrative leave” – effectively removed from office though he was elected twice by a CLC convention.
Yet workers are struggling, with the public sector workers in the forefront against right-wing governments across the country. Women are struggling and fighting back for pay and employment equity, childcare, reproductive rights, and equality rights. Youth are fighting for access to post-secondary education, jobs, higher wages, and an end to precarious work. Indigenous Peoples and climate activists are fighting the big oil and energy companies, demanding urgent action on the climate crisis, and on Indigenous rights including adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The climate strike demonstrations in October brought more than 1 million people into the streets in Canada – a larger protest than at any time in the last 20 years. This is significant, and hopeful. Mass protests will continue, and must be expanded to include the fight for peace and global nuclear disarmament.
Two recent polls showed that working people are urgently pressing for change. The first poll showed that more than 50% of those polled are close to financial disaster at the end of every month, with no room for emergencies, and despite enormous personal debt loads.
The other poll revealed that 58% were favourably inclined towards socialism.
What this shows is that big changes are underway in the conditions and the thinking of working people in Canada today.
Which way they will go depends on the strength and influence of the Communist Party and the left in the labour and people’s movements. Building up the Communist Party and left forces is the decisive question. We are growing, and will continue to grow as working people move into action in their own interests.
Building up the forces for peace and disarmament is also vital, as there will be no future in the event of global nuclear or conventional war, or climate catastrophe.
Building up the unity and strength, and common action of the Communist and Workers’ Parties, is urgent today, and must become a much more powerful material force in the struggle for fundamental change, for socialism, for peace and climate justice.
We will do our part to support every effort towards unity, united action, and global class and peoples struggle.
Central Executive Committee
Communist Party of Canada
October 16, 2019