Chapter 5: The Working Class and People’s Struggle
A democratic, anti-monopoly, anti-imperialist alliance will have as its objective the democratic restructuring of Canadian society so that the interests of the majority of Canadians come first, and the stranglehold of finance capital on every aspect of life is broken. It will seek to advance the working people’s interests through all available avenues of struggle, based on massive and united extra-parliamentary action.
The alliance will strive to score electoral advances, and the winning of power by a people’s government dedicated to carrying out sweeping measures to democratize society and transform economic relations in the interests of the working class and the Canadian people as a whole.
Such a breakthrough will be difficult to accomplish given the sophisticated means at the disposal of the ruling class to manipulate public opinion, discourage political activism and otherwise influence the outcome of bourgeois elections. A crucial task for the alliance will be to defend and expand democracy and to fight against corporate and governmental attacks on the electoral process.
A democratic, anti-monopoly government, based on a parliamentary majority, and acting in concert with the united and militant extra-parliamentary movements of the people, would signal a qualitative shift in the balance of class forces in Canadian society, and open the door to the revolutionary transformation to socialism. It would involve the people in a truly meaningful way.
The people’s government would be committed to a program of action geared to serve people before profit. That program would arise in the course of the social, economic and political struggles of the working class and its democratic allies, and be subject to the widest discussion and approval among all of the forces of the alliance.
Communists will struggle to win support for the most advanced program of political, economic and social transformation possible in line with the changing conditions. The program must aim: (1) to confront and restrict the power of finance capital (both foreign and domestic), and to extend public ownership of key sectors of the economy; (2) to redistribute wealth and raise the living standards and conditions of life for the vast majority of the people; and (3) to introduce sweeping democratic reforms to enhance popular control and administration of the Canadian state at all levels of government.
For working people to secure democratic, sovereign control of the Canadian economy, the domination of international finance capital must first be challenged and broken. Communists propose a people’s program that would aim to curb monopoly power through sweeping tax reforms which significantly increase taxes on corporate profits and individual wealth, through the establishment of controls over investment, exchange, and speculative activities, and through expanding workers’ rights in deciding workplace, managerial and investment practices. The people’s program would also involve reversing privatization, and moving to nationalize and put under democratic popular control the existing monopolies in vital sectors of the economy, especially in the financial sector (banks and financial institutions), in the energy and natural resources sector (extraction, production, etc.), and in transportation and communication. Measures would also be necessary to gain public democratic control over foreign trade, and to extricate Canada from NAFTA 2.0 (CUSMA), CETA, the WTO and other unfair, pro-corporate investment agreements and trading blocs.
The struggle for economic, political and cultural sovereignty will be a critically important part of the people’s program. Sovereign control is vital to ensure that the working class and its allies can successfully carry out the rest of the program of social transformation, and advance to a socialist Canada.
Measures to redistribute wealth and raise living standards and conditions of life for the vast majority of the people would include (among other reforms) the following:
- a substantial reduction in the working day and working week, with no reductions in pay, or loss of service to the public;
- significant increases in minimum rates of pay, pensions, and other employment-related benefits for all full- and part-time workers;
- a massive jobs program to put millions of unemployed and under-employed Canadians back to work, to ensure that unemployment is substantially reduced, and that all workers enjoy unemployment benefits for the full duration of joblessness;
- the enforcement of laws guaranteeing complete pay equity for women workers, the guarantee of full reproductive rights, and the provision of universal, free childcare and other vital services to ensure that women can play a full and equal role in all aspects of economic, political and social life;
- the provision of complete, free, and universally-accessible services to all Canadians, including health care, primary, secondary and post-secondary education, livable pensions, housing and other basic services;
- the extension and protection of workers’ rights to unionization, free collective bargaining, and the right to strike.
The people’s government, with the active support and mobilization of the working class and its allies, would also introduce sweeping reforms to enhance popular control and administration of the Canadian state and of governments at all levels. The democratization of political and social life would ensure that the working class and the masses of the Canadian people exercise greater political power and participate fully in the implementation of the people’s program.
The people’s government would also forge a new independent foreign policy based on peace and disarmament, and develop economic, cultural and diplomatic relations with all countries on the basis of full equality and mutual respect. It would withdraw Canada from NATO and NORAD, oppose all aggressive military pacts and acts of aggression, and work for peaceful political solutions to regional and international conflicts. Canada would work for equitable, non-exploitative economic relations between all states, for the advancement of developing countries, and for international solidarity with the peoples of the world struggling for independence, peace and social progress. Canada would work toward the elimination of imperialist control of the U.N. Security Council.
The Canadian State and especially its repressive apparatus – the army, police forces, and the courts and prison system – would be placed under genuine democratic control and supervision, and the reactionary, anti-democratic Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the RCMP, and Communications Security Establishment dismantled. Such fundamental re-organization would help prevent hostile class forces from using this part of the state apparatus to disrupt and subvert the interests of the working people and the people’s government.
Measures would also be taken to democratize electoral laws and structures to ensure fair and free elections by the introduction of proportional representation, the right of recall of elected representatives, and steps to end the corporate monopoly of the mass media.
The people’s program would also include the call for the re-drafting of the Canadian constitution by a constituent assembly. The redrafted constitution would be subject to the approval of the national components of Canada. It would enshrine democratic and social and individual human rights in the fundamental law of the country. A new constitution must also guarantee the full and equal rights and declare the voluntary union of all nations in Canada. Measures to reduce national inequalities will be a decisive factor forging the unity of the working class and its allies across the country.
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Although such measures would not constitute socialism, the victory of a people’s government devoted to carrying out such a broad program would mark a significant step in the struggle for fundamental change and socialist transformation.
To succeed, a people’s government would require the full and conscious mobilization of the working class and its allies outside Parliament. With each meaningful reform enacted, with each democratic measure secured, with each encroachment on the power and privilege of capital, the ruling class and its imperialist international partners would stiffen their resistance by all means at their disposal. But, at the same time, such measures can help to galvanize the masses, and promote working class actions in support of the people’s government.
This would be a period of intensified class struggle on all fronts – political, economic and ideological.
The successful implementation of the people’s program, and the pace with which it is carried out will depend on the unity and militancy of the working class and its revolutionary vanguard, and on the enduring unity of the entire democratic, anti-monopoly, anti-imperialist alliance. Prevailing regional and international conditions will also affect the pace of social transformations.
Throughout this process there will be social and political mobilization of the working class and people’s forces to support and implement the program of the people’s government – through electoral and workplace struggles, street demonstrations and other actions. At the same time, the threatened ruling class will attempt to shake the confidence and unity of the people’s forces and to frustrate their ability to carry out the people’s program.
To preserve its class privileges and re-establish its supremacy, the capitalist class will be inclined to resort to economic blackmail and sabotage, subversion from within those sections of the state apparatus it still influences and controls, political violence and terrorism, and even open rebellion and foreign intervention. The people’s government, with the full support of the working class, will be fully within its rights to counter any such anti-democratic and illegal assaults on people’s power.
Together with its allies, the working class, working both indirectly through its elected government, and directly at the point of production in the factories and offices and in the communities, will progressively extend and deepen the content of the people’s program. More sweeping reforms will be implemented, curbing the power of capital through progressive nationalizations, investment and currency controls, and other measures.
As the working class and its political forces become more experienced and confident, as social and economic changes increasingly shift the balance of class forces in society, revolutionary conditions will develop. The socialist option advanced by the Communist Party will win wide support.
The revolutionary transformation to socialism will mark the absolute transfer of power from the capitalist class to the working class together with its allies. This process will be influenced by both domestic and external conditions and developments. The pace and character of this transformation will be determined by the unity and resolve of the working class and its closest allies at decisive junctures, and the capacity of the progressive and revolutionary forces to frustrate and curtail counter-revolutionary activity which violates democracy and the rule of law.
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