Contribution to the 17th International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties by Communist Party of Canada leader Miguel Figueroa
First of all, we join with others in expressing our solidarity to our host party, the Communist Party, Turkey.
At such a critical moment in this region, with dark clouds of war swirling everywhere, with imperialist intrigues fomenting national and religious conflict in order to extend its hegemony, and with a humanitarian and refugee crisis of epic proportions, the principled, internationalist role of your party and other Communist and Workers’ parties across the Middle East are more crucial than ever.
The tasks currently facing our parties – and all the anti-imperialist and revolutionary forces in a broader sense – flow from an objective assessment of the general, systemic dynamics of capitalism today. In our view, the basic, underlying contradictions inherent to this system are maturing at an accelerating pace, giving rise to a series of interrelated crises which have sharpened over the recent period.
Foremost amongst these continues to be the historic conflict between the two main classes – the working class and the ruling capitalist class – locked in dialectical unity and struggle by virtue of their central location in the process of production. The class struggle is intensifying everywhere, as state-monopoly capital strives to drive down the price of labour-power to reverse the decline in the rate of profit, and to preserve their class domination at the expense of the workers and their labour rights.
In the Canadian context, this takes the form of an all-sided capitalist offensive against the wages and living standards of workers, the loss of full-time and permanent employment, especially in industry, and its replacement with part-time, contractual and other forms of precarious employment, growing social disparities between the super-rich and the vast majority of working people, the spread of poverty and insecurity, and the increased attack on the trade unions, labour standards and workers’ rights in general.
The Canadian State plays a central role in enforcing this capitalist offensive, through austerity programs, the weakening and privatization of public programs, services and social protections, the imposition of pro-corporate trade and investment pacts like the Canada-Europe (CETA) and Trans-Pacific Partnership deals, and legislative and judicial attacks on trade union rights.
Another critical aspect of this capitalist offensive which our Party prioritizes in its work is the drive to militarization, imperialist aggression and war. Over the past decade in particular, Canada has played in increasingly active and bellicose role within the NATO imperialist alliance, especially in the occupation of Afghanistan, in Libya, in support of the fascist regime in Kiev, and as one of Zionist Israel’s strongest backers. It has hiked military spending, announced major procurements of new stealth fighter jets and warships, and is now expanding the number of Canadian military bases on foreign soil.
A third priority for our Party is the struggle to defend and extend the democratic rights of the people and to combat every encroachment on the right to political dissent, violations of civil liberties, and the passage of authoritarian and even proto-fascist, police state laws such as C-51 (the new ‘anti-terrorism’ law) by governments at every level. This also includes the battle against all forms of racism and Islamophobia, and ultra-right, fascist groups seeking to divide the working class on this basis; the struggle for the full emancipation and social equality of women and sexual minorities; and the struggle in solidarity of the just demands and national rights of Canada’s indigenous peoples and of Quebec.
Finally, our Party also considers among its top priorities our active participation in the environmental movement, and in particular efforts to mitigate and reverse climate change, the impact of which falls most heavily on the working class, peasants and farmers, and on the poor and marginalized sections of the people around the world. We sense a special responsibility on this point, not only because on a per capital basis, Canada is among the very worst polluters in the world – but also because of the disgusting role which the Harper Conservative government has played over the past decade in obstructing any binding international agreement to reduce emissions – a cravenly self-serving policy on behalf of Canadian energy, mining and resource monopolies.
The recent federal elections must be seen in this context. In our view, the defeat of the Harper government marked a significant victory for the working class, for indigenous peoples, for women, youth and students, for the unemployed and underemployed, and for the LGBTiQ communities. It was a victory for all those dedicated to peace and disarmament, for immediate action to combat climate change, and to the struggle for social equity and social justice. The results reflected a strong rejection of the pro-austerity and pro-war agenda of the Harper Conservatives by the peoples of Canada.
We have no illusions about the new Liberal majority under Justin Trudeau that is now in place. The Liberal Party is also a bourgeois, big business party; it has not changed its political colouring or class orientation. It remains committed to neoliberal economic doctrine at home, and to an imperialist foreign policy abroad.
We think it wrong however to dismiss this outcome as simply the meaningless replacement of one bourgeois government with another. The Harper government was the most anti-working class, anti-democratic, pro-war, misogynistic government in Canadian history. Its defeat opens up new political space to not only reverse the damage already done, but to also win more advanced and radical democratic, economic and political demands. This will require however a conscious political and organizational struggle to invigorate the extra-parliamentary movements, and an ideological struggle to shed illusions about the bourgeois role and character of the Liberal government….