As the economic crisis continues, more progressive people are drawing partisan conclusions and deciding they need to take action, get organized and involve themselves in resistance. Some are becoming active in their unions and mass organizations. The most advanced are being won to the struggle for socialism, and some are joining our ranks.
The urgent question today is to forge a plan of united class action linking the struggle for reforms with the revolutionary struggle for socialism.
Neither social reformism nor ultra-leftism can forge such a way forward. Socialist theory and practice will not arise spontaneously. Only the work of the Communist Party, as our programme says, Afuses scientific socialism with the class struggle and by so doing spreads political and socialist consciousness among the workers B an awareness of their historic mission as a class,@ to lead the peoples of Canada from capitalism to socialism and ultimately communism.
Our convention documents clearly show the analysis and direction we need to go, connecting the Party with the fightback. Building a stronger, bigger, more active and visible Party, Press and YCL-LJC is decisive in carrying out this plan.
The Party in action
Since the last convention, our Party has made a number of accomplishments. Our extra-parliamentary campaigning (such as the 2014 Save Canada Post Campaign and our Stop C-51 campaign) increased our visibility and contributed to the fightback. We have similar plans for our new campaign against the Trans Pacific Partnership. Going forward, the Central Committee should produce materials for a long running campaign about the environmental crisis, with a class perspective.
The Party ran twenty six candidates in the last federal election from coast to coast. Provincially the party has been on the ballot in BC, Alberta and Ontario. In Québec the PCQ works within Québec Solidaire. Manitoba is gearing-up to run at least five candidates provincially. We have also been active in the municipal arena.
Communication with membership applicants and contacts is more organized. Central-level communications now include the Vanguard / L’Avant-garde newsletter. Online work like social media has improved, as has production of materials like buttons, banners and flags. Tabling by Clubs is more common. We need to continue to do everything we can to help our Clubs engage in such public activity.
Concrete results are the best way to raise the morale of the Party. We need to look at our forces and identify where and how do we roll up our sleeves to build the Party? This means finding ways to identify and overcome subjective obstacles. Leadership means empowering the Party organization by making priorities, elevating conscious and creative action, and deepening our links with the working class.
Our Convention meets just seven days before the Party’s 95th birthday on May 28. This is a significant occasion to look back on our past work and focus on the struggles ahead.
Just twenty-four years ago our Party was in a very different situation. Our 30th Convention in December 1992 had just defeated an anti-Leninist faction attempting to liquidate the Party for reformism. The Mulroney Conservative’s Bill C-114, with its anti-democratic amendments to the Elections Act that would de-register our Party in 1993, was just about to be passed. Socialism was proclaimed dead and “History had ended.” Capitalism seemed triumphant.
But within three years the Party had re-established our socialist press, after the theft of the Canadian and Pacific Tribunes. We restored our internal organization and our international relations. In 1998, the Parti Communiste du Québec was re-established. A new programme was adopted in 2001. The ten-year legal and political struggle of the Figueroa case resulted in victory in 2003. Then, in 2007, the Young Communist League of Canada was reborn.
While our 36th Central Convention in 2010 reported many other positive developments, it also noted that Amembership has not registered significant net growth@ since recruitment did not outpace losses of veteran members. Today, however, we can report a turn in this situation.
Over the past three years, the Central Committee initiated a comprehensive campaign to improve recruitment. The main result of the Party building campaign was overall modest net membership growth, albeit uneven, and good steps countering a haphazard and spontaneous approach to recruitment. While the paperwork is still trickling in from some committees, about seventy new members joined the party during the campaign.
This shows that our last Convention’s evaluation of the political climate was substantially correct. Clearly there are people in all communities who are interested in, and indeed looking for, a formation like our Party. Overall, a new trend of recruitment is emerging right across the country.
To help our recruitment in mass movements, the Plan of Work will contain a proposal to bookmark a special period for an annual recruitment campaign. Setting the stage, the Convention needs to deepen our discussion about recruitment and growth.
The modest net growth the Party has seen in the last three years is welcome and significant, evidence that we are on the right track. We see: (a) significant numbers relative to club size; (b) relatively rapid growth; (c) net growth. These recruits are mainly new members, not returning lapsed members.
As it stands, new members account for between one in five members in some clubs, to four in five members in other clubs. If estimated rates of net recruitment continue, in another three years about half of the party’s membership will have joined after 2012.
Some recruits, albeit a minority, are coming from mass movements. Relatively few are former NDP members, although they may have sympathized with that party in the past.
Working class people are especially drawn to our party. Many are living through precarious work, and some are in the crucial battleground of organized labour. For a revolutionary party, recruiting and rebuilding among the ranks of the working class is vital. This convention needs to discuss and improve our analysis of recruitment among the most organized contingent of the working class, the trade union movement.
A noticeable proportion of recruits are under 35. Many youth come from the YCL-LJC, including some graduates and also current YCL-LJC members.
We are also recruiting from the South Asian, Spanish-speaking Latin American, and, to a lesser extent, Iranian and the Middle Eastern communities across Canada. Many of these recruits have valuable experience in mass struggles and political parties in other countries, which can help enrich our Party, but in some cases, more effort is needed to help these comrades play an active role in labour and people’s movements in Canada.
The Parti Communiste du Québec is also showing modest growth. Both party Clubs of the PCQ have recruited since the last Congress, and the LJC-Q is also reorganizing its work. This is all in the context of massive labour and people’s struggles across Québec.
People who identify as Aboriginal or Indigenous are joining the Party. And, although the female / male ratio is clearly uneven, women are joining the party.
Building the party among women
The Party has identified the recruitment of women as a priority at the last few conventions. We know that our Party’s Program has much to offer working class women. However, the number of women in the Party remains relatively low.
Our Party ensures that there are images of women in our media, we encourage women to write for our Press, our constitution reminds us to keep in mind the timely promotion of women, and we work to have more women act as spokespersons and candidates. But these steps can be hampered by the limited number of women members to call upon – and what time they are able to give, and the need to ensure we do not burn them out. This quandary can become a “Catch 22”.
Our Constitution states, “It shall be the duty of every Party member to work for the complete social and economic equality of women and for the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women. Party members shall set an example of gender equality in social and political life, in the home and in the workplace, and must oppose all forms of patriarchy and gender discrimination.” Do we really ensure this is the case? Do we discuss this in our Clubs, and with new members?
There are objective barriers for women joining any political movement or party. Generally the working class has less leisure time for volunteer political work. Lenin pointed out nearly a hundred years ago that women are doubly oppressed at home and work. They still are, as they continue to be mainly responsible for housework, childcare, and care of the elderly and sick.
Women are disproportionately impacted by austerity policies: higher levels of poverty; increasing care responsibilities for children and parents as health care is reduced; working in public sectors that are being downsized and contracted out; more part time hours and interrupted work life; lower levels of earned EI and pensions.
This is especially the case for women who are Aboriginal, live in poverty, are immigrant, live with disabilities, are racialized, and/or identify as queer. Although the Féderation des Femmes du Québec remains a strong organized pro-feminist force, the women’s movement in English-speaking Canada has not yet recovered from the smashing of NAC (and defunding of women’s organizations across Canada). This has hindered the fightback against austerity, and removed an important coalition where our Party historically had the opportunity to present our views to women activists across the country.
There are also objective barriers to recruitment, especially anti-communism, which has always denied and obscured the huge equality gains achieved by women under socialism. One aspect of Aleft@ anti-communism in particular is the assertion that Communism is a predominantly male movement which allegedly downplays the crucial struggle for the full emancipation of women. This attack points to a historical reality, that Communist Parties around the world, including in Canada, were founded by largely male industrial workers.
Of course, there is a long tradition of leading women in our movement – Alexandra Kollontai, Clara Zetkin, Dolores Ibarruri, Claudia Jones, Grace P. Campbell, Louise Thompson Patterson, Annie Buller, Léa Roback, Dorise Neilsen, Gladys Marín, Transito Amaguana, to name just a few. However, most of our visible leadership and our membership have been men, which does create a subjective barrier to recruiting women activists who are not familiar with the communist movement’s proud record of contributions to the struggle for women’s equality. In Canada, party club organizers have often been women. Historically, this was the case when women’s employment opportunities outside the home were limited. Some of these women had previously been labour activists, such as during WW2. With their skills as community-based organizers, these comrades played a key role in building our Party.
These factors call for systematic and intentional steps to ensure that the Party is welcoming, relevant and more engaging for women. We also need to use a “gender lens” when writing Party statements. We must examine the culture of our Party, beyond ensuring we have women speakers at our forums, women chairing meetings, women performers at social events. We need to allocate resources to activities such as holding regional women’s conferences, and support initiatives like a special women’s focus issue of The Spark!
- The incoming Central Committee will prioritize the following tasks:
- Develop a code of conduct policy and procedure that will be enforced at every level of the party and at every Party sponsored event.
- Consider developing an ombudsperson program to assist in the implementation of this policy and procedure.
- Develop guidelines on how to address issues of harassment that may occur during party club meetings, conferences, conventions or events.
- Develop an anti-racism and anti-oppression training and designate comrades who can deliver this training at all levels of the party.
The YCL-LJC has had some success – what can we learn from them? What can we learn from our fraternal Parties? We need to review what is working, and what isn’t.
Clubs are the basic unit of organization of our Party. But the number of women in party clubs is uneven. What can we learn from the experience of clubs with higher proportions of women members, and from clubs which have had more recent success in recruiting women? Is style of work a barrier in some cases?
A revitalized Central Women’s Commission, building on the work already done, will be important. However, if the Party is to have success at recruiting women, this must become a real priority of our collective work, as a whole and at all levels. The incoming Central Committee needs to take strong leadership to ensure that the concrete measures proposed in this section are carried out in full. We must revitalize the other Commissions of oppressed groups, such as the anti-racist and LGBTiQ Commissions, but also integrate our anti-oppression message into all areas of our Party culture, internal and external education, and mass work.
The party can lend its support to the women’s movement and engage with women by making rape, birth control, and reproductive rights issues of priority and by understanding their class basis. For example, in Canada access to abortion is legal but working class women face barriers to obtaining safe abortions in many areas because of lack of availability and not having the economic resources for travel, accommodations, to take time off work, pay for childcare, and other overlooked associative costs. Antagonistic class relations thus impede working class women from having full access to reproductive rights.
While it is true that rape is an issue that affects women across class lines, sexual violence is a form of oppression most commonly unleashed on working class women. The economic and social vulnerability of women, especially Indigenous and racialized women, puts them at greater danger of rape, harassment, and violence. Women are much more likely to stay in sexually, physically, and emotionally abusive relationships when they are dependent on their partners because they do not have the economic means to leave them. Working class women, especially migrant women, are particularly at risk of sexual harassment and violence from their employers because coming forward could mean the loss of their jobs or, in some cases, deportation. Rape must also be understood as a tool of colonialist and imperialist forces.
Forwarding women’s rights from a socialist perspective is especially important now that Canada has a self-proclaimed “feminist” Prime Minister. Liberal feminism is not only limited but also dangerous, as it has been used to serve the expansion of global capitalism and to push the Canadian imperialist agenda. Capitalist “development” in the countries of Asia, Africa, Latin-American and the Caribbean has been pushed as being “development for women and girls.” For example, Structural Adjustment Programs have been dressed in feminist rhetoric while in practice they impoverish the majority of people particularly women and children. Another example is how the war on terror and Islamophobia has, in part, been dressed up by liberal feminists as emancipatory for women. The rights of women were given center stage during Canada’s imperialist intervention in Afghanistan. The state claimed it was helping to push for progressive reforms for women and girls in Afghanistan while Afghani women were speaking out against the destructive effects of imperialist war on their communities which included the deaths of many women and children.
Strengthening the Clubs
While the Party remains far still too small, we are solving new and welcome problems of growth requiring audacity as well as a sober appraisal of our situation. Weaving together a prompt response to online recruitment applications, general party visibility and, importantly, active recruitment from labour and mass people’s organizations are all key lessons from the Party building campaign.
All our recent campaigns have also shown that both between and within different sections of the Party there is some unevenness in our standards of work, calling to increase the efficiency and capacity of the whole Party. While one single factor cannot be said to have determined this unevenness, we can identify some basic problems and possibilities. Leadership needs to assist the different areas of the Party, actively supporting the Clubs where they work.
For example, we are beginning to develop loose constellations of geographically isolated contacts, calling for renewed attention to members at-large. We also have prospects for new Clubs, which are being realized in some areas.
Four new clubs!
Since the last Central Convention, the Party has chartered four new clubs. In BC, the Kamloops Club experienced a burst of recruitment in late 2013, which was partly the result of the visibility of our Party press in the community and work by Party members on campus. Today, Kamloops is a growing collective, active and visible in the community including in municipal politics.
In Ontario, the Forest City Club was chartered in fall 2014. Following long-standing interest, the Club came together in the context of the provincial election campaign and a candidate provided from the Provincial Executive Committee, and keen local group. Showing growth and consolidation, the Club’s organizer ran in the federal election where the Club made a number of new contacts including with the local struggle for public health care.
In Nova Scotia, the Halifax Club was chartered in June 2015. The collective’s membership has fluctuated, as work pressures require comrades to move, but the Club played a key role in the 2015 federal election where the Club treasurer ran as a candidate in the rural riding of South Shore-St. Margarets.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, the Sally and Chuck Davis Club was chartered in January 2016. The Club, named after two stalwart veteran members in St. John’s, grew out of the federal election campaign which saw the first-ever Communist candidate on the Island. The brand new Club is starting to cut its teeth in the community.
We look forward to welcoming delegates from these new Clubs to the Convention. The experience of organizing these Clubs carries several lessons. These include prompt follow-up of applicants, regular in-person visits and consistent communication between the Club and the Centre, as well as activity and education. In each case, electoral campaigns played some role in helping consolidate the political life of the club.
Almost all of our Clubs are dynamic collectives, in different phases of renewal and growth. A healthy Club can be considered a chartered body with at least three members that has: regular monthly business meetings with majority attendance; an elected organizer and treasurer with regular collection of dues and financial commitments; carrying out propaganda, agitational and organizational work to support the Party’s program and policy and decisions of the Convention; and reporting to the next highest body. It therefore has both a friendly, comradely internal operation as well as an external role in society.
The overwhelming majority of our Clubs are in good health, an improvement since our last Convention. A few Clubs have fallen away from certain basic standards of Party life, such as regular meetings. If Club health deteriorates, more serious problems can develop calling for patience and rebuilding political and ideological unity in action.
With new recruitment, however, the Party has started to turn around many of these situations. Some good steps are being taken to revitalize Party life in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. In Québec, the PCQ is more collectively active in Palestine solidarity and a keen commentator on labour struggles through its press. A greater presence of the Centre would help to ensure that this work continues.
Our Clubs grow when they have a strong leadership, regular meetings, and activity in the community. Clearly, the Clubs doing the most recruiting are mobilizing in their communities, winning the attention of local media, and expanding the Party’s influence. Party members who run as candidates in municipal, provincial or Federal elections also serve as spokespersons for the local Party. This kind of “express training” is one practical school for developing cadre.
While some new recruits have had a relationship with the Party for a long time, others have only recently come into contact through our central website. In the case of applicants who are otherwise unknown to the party, a diligent follow-up process is needed.
More and more clubs, as well as Committees in the case of members at-large, are re-adopting a process through which the Party Club and the applicant get to know each other and discuss what is involved in membership. That way, the rights and duties of membership are valued, while Party does not forget new recruits, or recruit people who might hinder further growth.
Clubs provide leadership in the workplaces in which they are active or the communities where the comrades live, through their members and the Club as a whole. Indeed, the Party Club is the most sophisticated tool we have developed to craft the closest of relationships between the Party and the working people. It is the public face of the party, the base organization.
Another important lesson of the last three years is the importance of the cardinal relationship between the Clubs and the Centre. As the 35th Central Convention said, “Strengthening the Centre and Clubs must not be seen as mutually exclusive goals, but as equally necessary measures to accomplish the Party’s priorities.”
Vital conveyor belts communicate information from bottom to top, and back down again, throughout the whole party between conventions. Renewed attention needs to be given to these links, such as report-backs from the Central Committee, which help ensure the Party is not simply a sum of its parts but rather a collective, systematic whole.
In 2010, the 36th Central Convention issued a directive to the Clubs, calling that: “Every club and committee should have an organizer, education director, press director, and plan of work. Every club should be connected with the main organizations in its area of responsibility, including the labour councils and local affiliates, peace organizations, youth and women’s organizations, and the fightback movements and coalitions in each area. Clubs should take the initiative wherever possible in the struggles developing in their areas, giving particular attention to strikes, picket-lines, workplaces, struggles of the unemployed and unorganized, and struggles involving youth.”
Six years later, many more of our Clubs have a more robust health but we cannot say that all of these criteria have been met. In some cases such a standard may not be immediately realistic. This pre-Convention discussion is an occasion to share our experiences. The whole party and the incoming Central Committee needs to make a renewed effort to achieve these goals.
Renewal of cadre and ideological work
At the heart of matter of renewal of Party collectives is that policies are put into effect by people. The success of any work, in the final analysis, depends on those with whom the work has been entrusted.
Over the past twenty-four years we have been through a tremendous renewal of Party cadre. In 2004, our 34th Convention noted that Asome of our most capable and experienced party activists are stepping away from their assignments (due to age, infirmity, etc.), while most of our newer and younger comrades hesitate to take on leading responsibilities either because they lack experience or training, or because they are already over-committed in various fields of mass activity.”
Today, in contrast, there are positive examples of renewal. The outgoing Central Committee contains many first-time members. The recent BC and Ontario Conventions saw both continuity and change in electing their provincial leaderships. Our new clubs in the Atlantic region are also examples of renewal.
For the past ten years there has been considerable attention by the Party to strengthening the Young Communist League, in part because of the YCL-LJC’s vital contribution to Party renewal.
For example, important decisions about the assignments of Party youth in British Columbia on the eve of the last Central Convention have proved correct, helping precipitate a new and healthy YCL-BC, working more closely with the Party. Two of the seven members of the YCL-LJC who ran as Party candidates in the last election were from the YCL-BC.
Selection of cadre includes the proper combination of old and young cadre. An example is mentorship, where veteran and new comrades work closely together in Party life including mass assignments.
Today, the Party needs cadre who earn the political confidence of the members, are ideologically strong, understand the Party’s policies, and fight courageously for their realization. At the same time, our cadre must be efficient at getting the job done.
Developing cadre along these scientific principles requires elevating our work in education and training with an organized programme, equipping new cadre with an understanding of the importance of assuming internal party assignments and responsibilities, and with the skills to carry out those tasks.
Theoretical conversations are too limited and slow as a method of recruitment alone; ideological work also needs to be a vital part of winning new comrades into our ranks. Many recruits have already made efforts, sometimes considerable, to self-educate themselves in Marxism and left politics, we need to make such studies more comprehensive.
Greater ideological unity is also crucial for gaining greater influence among our class and the peoples of Canada. While mass protests, social criticism and anti-capitalist sentiments are growing, left-oriented people do not automatically gravitate to our party. The continued influence of social democratic and reformist thinking, cynicism towards political parties and politics in general, and especially continued anti-communism all affect growth and engage the party in a constant battle of ideas.
There is particular need to counter the new anti-Communism directed particularly at youth, which aims to completely re-write the history of the USSR and socialist countries as somehow pro-fascist, such as “Black Ribbon Day,” “Journey to Freedom Day” and the “Victims of Communism” monument.
Since our 31st Convention in 1995, every Convention document has noted positive efforts in our ideological work but recognized that more needs to be done. The 35th Convention in 2007, for example, noted that Asome clubs hold regular discussions and some provinces hold regular provincial educationals, but this is not always the norm. We need the central education commission to function at a higher level; we need to count on it a great deal in the coming period.@
Recently, the Theory and Education commission has restarted work, discussing a draft curriculum framework and study guide to the Programme. Under the direction of comrade Miguel Figueroa, a central high-level School was held since our last Convention. Another was postponed by early call of the 2015 Federal election.
There have also been four provincial schools in Ontario since the last Convention, one in BC, and at least five YCL-LJC schools organized across the country which regularly included Party speakers. Many, if not most, Party Clubs have held special educationals, and there has been some special educational discussion by the PCQ.
Our Convention discussion should review this recent educational work, identifying some of the objective and subjective barriers in this area. The Centre needs to continue to feed our Clubs with ideological materials, such as providing leaflets on particular struggles and ideological questions.
The incoming Central Committee should also make a clearer assessment of the goals and purpose for the Party’s theoretical and discussion journal, The Spark! While it has published several issues since the last convention, with significant contributions by Party members and a general improvement in design and copy editing, several challenges remain. In the coming period The Spark! should seek to identify and overcome the obstacles that prevent it from: a) publishing on a regular basis; and b) better fulfilling its role as a discussion journal, both within the Party and with our friends and allies.
Our Party’s decision to publish a press in English and French, investing great resources in this operation, is part of a deliberate, long-term strategy. For the English language press, twenty times a year, a crisp, twelve-page issue arrives in the hands of our subscribers. Thousands of copies go out, which get distributed at rallies and picket lines right across the country. Building our press in English and French is an ideological, political and organizational question which is distinct yet interconnected with building the Party.
Our press is a window or mirror into which the workers and progressive people can see the connections between their struggle, whether it is the story of striking potato-chip workers in New Brunswick, or the locked-out staff at a golf course on Vancouver Island. It provides coverage and analysis of the labour movement, and gives special attention to Indigenous people’s struggles. In French it gives unique coverage to the left in English-speaking Canada. In English, our press is sometimes the only media consistently reporting on struggles in Québec.
The work of the press is therefore both agitational, helping move people into action, and a tool of propaganda. It helps explain the way forward for working people in the current conditions countering bourgeois mis-information. From Turtle Island to Palestine, our press consistently exposes the capitalist system and denounces imperialist war, while calling for peace, class solidarity and social progress.
Our press is the only regularly produced material around which every single Party club organizes, across the country. The system of production and distribution is a unique as a constant common political activity at the heart of Party life, a collective organizer of the Party.
Our press is of high quality and, in English-speaking Canada, published regularly with a subscription base. In our recruitment drive, some of our subscribers have now become donors or even members. But more importantly, the subscription base of the press expands our influence and visibility far beyond our ranks. It is a conversation between the party and the working people.
No other print or online publication fulfils this role. Our press can’t be replaced by social media on picket lines and demonstrations where people are often most interested in reading it B especially if the edition includes something about their struggle.
The press in English and French needs to continue the print edition (with an updated look), improve its online delivery of news, and expand the paid subscription base of the paper. This is the way forward.
To support the press, the whole collective infrastructure of the party is put at its disposal. At the base level, this work is carried out by the Clubs, through their press director. The Ontario Party has done good work reinforcing its press committee and ensuring all Clubs have press directors. Shown the necessity of this work, new comrades have stepped forward and taken on the assignment to further engage their clubs with the writing, distribution of subscription management of the paper.
As best we can, we need to emulate this work across the country, building our press in a collective and more deliberate way, and developing a battalion of press directors within our ranks.
The press also needs new writers. Some good steps in this direction are already being taken. And while they have their own magazines to support, YCL-LJCers should be strongly encouraged to exchange articles with the press and write on questions concerning the youth movement.
Drawing on our experience with federal election training, the new Central Committee should also organize cross-Canada skills workshops for those interested in writing, drawing, reviewing, selling, distributing, promoting, and fund-raising for our paper, such as Press Conferences and meetings of Club Press Directors. We must also find a way to apply this to the party press in Québec, strengthening our agitation and propaganda in French. Clearly we can make much better use of the press in the future than we have so far.
When the press appears on a Club or Committee agenda it is sometimes as a stand-alone item. We sometimes think of the press on its own, separate from other Party business, but it is interwoven with the work of the Party. New subscriptions, articles, and fundraising all require special effort. Our press would not be possible without the Party; at the same time it is a builder of the Party, and its base must be bigger than the Party.
The Party, youth and the YCL-LJC
The Young Communist League of Canada, which is organizationally autonomous but politically united with the Party, plays a special role within the youth and student movement and is a significant ally of the Party. Neither a “youth wing” nor a “mini-CPC,” the YCL-LJC is an organization in its own right.
Following our last Convention the YCL-LJC held its own 26th Central Convention in 2014 in Toronto, which saw significant renewal of its leadership. Drew Garvie, the new General Secretary of the YCL-LJC, has been very busy since then, working to build the League across the country. The organization has new clubs in Victoria, BC and Ottawa, Ontario as well as a renewed LJC-Q and strengthening its political and organizational unity.
Rebel Youth is also continuing regular publication and needs the support of the Party through subscriptions as does Jeunesse Militante in Québec.
The question of culture — music, movies, art, creative writing, even web design, etc. — is part of the youth movement and is a organic feature of the YCL-LJC’s work. The YCL-LJC is also active on young workers’ issues, like the fight to raise the minimum wage, and in student struggles for accessible education. The LJC-Q is launching a campaign called AGeneration Resistance,@ demanding free education in Québec.
Peace, anti-imperialism and internationalism are burning issues for youth. The YCL-LJC’s contribution to Che Brigade to Cuba, and the World Festival of Youth and Students, highlight these points. The YCL-LJC also again holds a seat on the General Council of the World Federation of Democratic Youth.
Party members in the YCL-LJC carry out this work as an assignment and, like Party members in other mass organizations, have a special responsibility to strengthen the League’s unity in action. They must also continue to help the organization take the energy of youth and build it into a force for social transformation.
Recognizing that the Party has its own campaigns and policies for youth, and that we cannot simply Acontract-out@ this area of struggle to the League, the outgoing Central Committee struck a Youth and Campus Commission. Continued focus on campus recruitment is needed in both universities and community colleges / CEGEPs, including registered campus clubs, organized discussion groups and public events.
Other matters facing our Convention
The task of launching a full Programmatic and Constitutional review over the past three years continues over to the 38th Central Convention and the incoming Central Committee. We need to undertake further efforts for bilingual French-English translation of our Constitution and main political documents, although good steps have been taken to ensure the majority of our statements and videos are now in both languages.
Our party faces a series of very important anniversaries in the coming years. 2017 will mark the 80th anniversary of the Mac-Pap Battalion which fought nobly with the International Brigades during the Spanish Civil War, and also the 100th anniversary of Great October Socialist Revolution. The world-historic changes brought about by the creation of the world’s first socialist state helped set into motion events which included the Winnipeg General Strike in 1919, and the establishment of our Party in 1921, as well as many Communist Parties around the world.
In preparation for the Party’s 100-year anniversary in just five years, the incoming Central Committee should start plans to update our official Party history. Forty years have passed since the concluding date of Canada’s Party of Socialism, decades which have been significant not only for our party and the left in Canada, but for our class in general.
The history of our Party can also be explored in the many books published by Progress Books prior to the 1990’s. Given that it is unlikely that we will be able to reprint these titles in traditional book form in the foreseeable future, the incoming Central Committee should investigate the process of digitizing – and thereby preserving for future generations – the most important of these titles.
Conclusion: strengthening unity in action
As we discuss questions related to building the Party and becoming more viable and influential, a recurring theme is our efficiency in organization. The working class, after all, has no strength other than its organization.
Take, for example, the reports that some campaign managers made following the federal election B that most comrades worked very hard on the campaign, but at the same time, Club participation was inconsistent.
In a strong united Party, everyone has a contribution to make and the collective harnesses everyone’s ability. Bourgeois parties talk about AParliamentary Whips,@ but strong-arm tactics have no place in a Communist Party. Our Party constantly seeks to politically win all its members and supporters into united action. At its core, the Party is a voluntary organization of like-minded people, uniting in its ranks the most politically advanced and active members of the working class the people, who are prepared to fight for socialism.
Strong organization is not possible without such self-motivated discipline. This is not only true of the Communist Party. For example, a casual or liberal approach to discipline on a picket line can seriously hurt a strike. Indeed, the standards of party life have sprung from the experience of the working class movement, and follow from the revolutionary role of the Communist Party in the struggle for socialism.
The 37th Central Convention concluded that “A key lesson of the last three years is that […] our guiding organizational principle of democratic centralism must be strengthened.” We sometimes think of democratic centralism like an insurance policy — we don’t look at it until the car breaks down. But democratic centralism it shapes our forms of organization, norms of internal life, method of work and the duties and rights of membership. The Convention itself is an embodiment of both centralism and democracy, principles which apply not only to the party but also to the socialist reorganization of society.
For all comrades it is important to have a solid understanding of these principles, and to keep our perspective fresh. But with the new members joining our ranks this is even more important.
The Party’s Constitution and Programme both define democratic centralism: “The Party’s organizational principle of democratic centralism combines the participation of all its members in democratic discussion and decisions on policy and the election of all leading committees, with central collective leadership in action and with decisions binding on all members. It relies on criticism and self-criticism and the public acknowledgement of error in order to learn from its mistakes and to improve its work.”
Communist Party membership therefore goes beyond simply agreeing with the programme and our ideology of Marxism-Leninism. As comrades sometimes say, “after we all make a decision, we all carry it out,” which means we have a democracy of vigorous common action. The whole internal life of the Party is organized to allow maximum participation and broad discussion of membership, actively creating and guiding the Party’s practical work.
While too many of the progressive forces across Canada are in disarray, we have unity in action. Our Party has a clarity of analysis which is revolutionary in scope, internationalist and Marxist Leninist. Thus the Party embodies the principles of a vanguard – a title we aspire to win in practice.
The working class movement across Canada faces diverse conditions of maturity, strength and unity as a result of the law of uneven capitalist economic development, the national question, and contradictions between the large urban metropolises and the rest of the country. Racist and chauvinist attitudes are pervasive across the country, and particularly in some regions. Such negative factors are largely beyond our control, and have become more acute during the current cyclical crisis of capitalism. At the same time, objective conditions give urgency and renewed meaning to our struggle for socialism, leading people to search-out our Party.
We may appear isolated, but the demands we fight for strongly resonate with people. One example of this is during election forums. Where our candidates have the right to speak, they often quickly win the support and applause of audiences. We have an excellent group of Party spokespeople, and a strong platform, reflecting our perspective towards the class struggle for social progress. When these liberating ideas and demands are taken up by millions, they become a material force for change.
Today, big business claims socialism is finished, capitalism will endure forever. In reality, however, it is the capitalist system which is doomed.
This is why ruling class and the state loathe socialist ideas. They do everything possible to blunt the growth of the left forces, and especially the Communist Party, because we have the objective potential to grow in size and influence. This makes the Communist Party a potent threat to capitalism.
Although this may seem a difficult path to tread, our Party should take confidence in the class struggle and the tremendous capacity of the people for resistance described in this political report. Therefore, our 38th Central Convention declares:
Workers of the world unite! We have a world to win!
For fundamental change!
For a stronger Communist Party!
For a Socialist Future!