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Political Report of the Central Executive
To read and download the full report of the CC Meeting, including this report and special resolutions, click here CC – 2012-04 – full report – colour
1. Over the past six months, the systemic crisis of capitalism has continued to nfold, despite theu frantic efforts of ruling circles in Canada and internationally to reverse its downward spiral. The conclusions reached at our last CC plenum are continuing to unfold today:
“Capitalism is mired in irreconcilable contradictions which are maturing rapidly, reflected in growing economic volatility and political instability … [i]n their desperate attempts to shore up their economic interests and maintain political hegemony, ruling capitalist classes are reverting to an extreme right-wing, reactionary agenda”.
2. The political-economic offensive launched by monopoly and capitalist governments to drive down the price of labour-power through savage wage cuts, increasing the intensity of labour (also called ‘speed-up’), pension and other benefit take-backs, and the gutting of public services, has in turn spawned growing labour and popular resistance and fightback.
3. The resource-based domestic economy in Canada – when compared to most other imperialist countries in Europe and the U.S. – has remained (at least so far) relatively buoyant, due primarily to high world commodity prices for oil, gold and other minerals. Corporate profits have rebounded handsomely from 2008-09; sovereign debt levels are manageable; and unemployment – officially pegged at 7.2% – is well below those in the U.S. and most European countries. Why then is the capitalist offensive in Canada almost as intense as it is in other imperialist states? This circumstance is due primarily to two factors: (1) the extreme-right, ideologically-driven agenda of the federal Conservative (majority) government; and (2) the failure of the trade union leadership, especially at the level of the Canadian Labour Congress, to mobilize and lead the organized sections of the working class (together with its allies) around a concerted fightback strategy.
4. That said, the fightback is growing on a number of crucial areas – among sections of the workers, among youth and students, against education, healthcare and other social cutbacks, in defence of the environment, and so on. The challenge facing our Central Committee this weekend and our entire Party over the coming months leading up to our next Central Convention is to identify and help overcome the weaknesses inhibiting a more powerful and dynamic resistance movement among broad labour and people’s movements, and to build our Party, the YCL and our press in the process.
On Some Critical International Matters
5. The main priority of our Communist work, as always, is to defend and advance the interests of the working class in Canada, to forge labour and people’s unity in class and democratic battles with monopoly and its servile governments at the federal, provincial and local level, and to win the workers and their closest allies for the struggle for socialism. But as we have noted previously, the class struggle in our country is impacted by, and contributes to, the struggle of peoples everywhere against the global capitalist offensive, against imperialist aggression and war, and for peace, independence and for socialism.
6. This is especially true today, when all three imperialist blocs are mired in a protracted economic crisis of great magnitude, the impact of which is felt in virtually all countries. According to the World Bank, the global economy is continuing to weaken, with low growth rates or even economic contraction in a number of countries. In January, the Bank was forced to revise its 2012 predictions for global growth to 2.5 percent, down from its June 2011 estimate of 3.6 percent, adding that the Euro area may actually contract 0.3 percent, compared with a previous estimate of a 1.8 percent gain. The U.S. growth outlook was cut to 2.2 percent from 2.9 percent. Unemployment rates in the advanced capitalist states continue to mount, with European joblessness now reaching 10.7%., with Spain and Greece as high as 24% and 22% respectively.
7. The socio-economic impact of weak growth and high unemployment has been further exacerbated by the imposition of savage austerity policies under the tutelage of the IMF and the World Bank. As cde. Sitaram Yechury of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) observed at the 13th International Meeting this past December, “Every effort that capitalism is making to get out of its financial meltdown crisis is laying the seeds for a deeper crisis.” Consider the case of Greece, for example, which has now entered its fifth straight year of recession/depression, and where ruthless austerity measures, dictated by the ‘troika’ of the IMF, the EU and the European Central Bank, have cut the minimum monthly wage by 22%, increased the age of retirement and cut pension benefits, and devastated the public sector. As a result, malnutrition is wreaking havoc among children; hunger is emerging especially in large cities; homelessness is growing; unemployment among young people is now 45% (49.5% for young women); hospital beds have been reduced by 40%: in public hospitals there are no longer dressings or basic medicines such as aspirin; and suicide attempts are increasing at an alarming rate.
8. The class struggle engendered by these seriously deteriorating conditions is spreading across many parts of Europe, most notably in Greece itself where mass demonstrations, work stoppages and general strikes have multiplied in scope and frequency. At the cutting edge of this massive fightback is the Greek Militant Workers Front (PAME), led by the Communist Party of Greece. Struggles have also intensified elsewhere in Europe in response to the crisis and the austerity measures imposed by ruling circles to make the working class pay for it. The recent massive general strikes in Portugal and Spain (on March 22 and 29 respectively) were especially significant.
9. These struggles in turn have radicalized political thinking, weakened the grip of social democratic and reformist illusions among workers, and increased support for the Communist and revolutionary left forces in these countries. In Greece, the PASOK (the social democrats) has crumbled, while support for the KKE and the left in general has increased. Support is also growing for the Left Front in France (which includes the PCF), for the Communist-led United Left (IU) in Spain, and also for the CPRF in the Russian Federation. In England, the by-election victory of George Galloway in Bradford West, and the overwhelming rejection of Labour and Con-Dem candidates, is also noteworthy.
10. This radicalizing class-political effect of the continuing crisis and the corresponding austerity programs has widened certain tactical (but not strategic) differences within ruling circles as well, as some sections of monopoly capital become increasingly uneasy as the fightback and political/ideological support for the Left grow. These differences were apparent at the most recent World Economic Summit in Davos, Switzerland in January, for instance, where the pro-austerity, ultra-conservative elements, led by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, openly clashed with other bourgeois leaders who are now urging political caution and even renewed economic stimulus to spur growth and lessen unemployment. These ‘moderate’ voices are not concerned about the privation and misery caused by the capitalist offensive; rather, they are worried about ‘political stability’ and the potential threat to their political and ideological hegemony.
11. It is difficult to predict how these contradictions will play out in the short term. The capitalists hope to ride out the economic ‘storm’, and use the crisis to further consolidate and centralize capital, expand privatization and deregulation, and drive down the price of labour by weakening trade union organization and rights – the main obstacle to their neoliberal agenda. But working people are fast approaching the limits of what they will tolerate, as the class conflicts across Europe, the youth and student struggles from Chile to Britain to Canada, and the worldwide embrace of the Occupy movement all attest.
12. Another aspect of the deepening crisis of the capitalist system relates to the stepped-up drive for militarization and war, and the incessant saber-rattling by the main imperialist powers – including Canada – for foreign aggression against both Syria and Iran. The drive to war is an inherent feature of capitalism in its imperialist stage, as rival imperialist powers struggle to increase domination over markets, seize natural resources, and re-divide the world. But it comes as no surprise that this objective impulse to aggression intensifies during prolonged periods of economic crisis. War, after all, is one of the most ‘effective’ (sic) means in capitalism’s arsenal to destroy excess capacity and resuscitate stagnant (or declining) capitalist economies. The whipping up of national chauvinism and war hysteria also serves to distract and disorient the popular masses from their class-based grievances against the dominant “1%”. This is why the struggle against imperialist aggression and war is such an essential and central aspect of the working class struggle as a whole, and why building the broadest possible anti-war movement to prevent foreign imperialist aggression in Syria or Iran to a top priority for our Party over the coming period.
13. Canada, the U.S. and other NATO powers, as well as Zionist Israel, are trying to manipulate the complex, deteriorating situation in Syria in order to fashion another Libya-style imperialist intervention under the pretext of the “responsibility to protect” (R2P) civilian lives. After arrogantly dismissing the February constitutional reform referendum (overwhelmingly endorsed by Syrian citizens), they are now actively sabotaging the recent Syrian Peace Plan adopted on March 21 by the UN Security Council. Meanwhile, Turkey and the reactionary Gulf states, with imperialist backing, have stepped up covert military support to the “Free Syrian Army” and other armed opposition groups inside the country. These actions clearly show that the imperialist powers and their local puppets in the region are not the least bit interested in a national dialogue between the Al-Assad government and the opposition aimed at achieving a just and lasting political settlement in the country. Rather, they plan to deepen the crisis and bring about a ‘regime change’ to their liking, through direct military intervention if necessary.
14. Our Party agrees with the position of the Syrian Communist Party (Unified) which has welcomed the Kofi Annan peace initiative, and has called on all sides in the domestic conflict to cease military action and instead seek a peaceful, negotiated solution that guarantees the “sovereignty, independence, territorial unity and security of Syria” while maintaining Syria’s longstanding “patriotic stance against imperialism, Zionism and neo-colonialism”. The SCP(U) warns however that a peaceful outcome is in doubt, given the machinations of the imperialist powers which are “exerting all possible efforts to make any plan for a peaceful settlement of the Syrian sufferings no more than a failure.”
15. The danger of imperialist aggression and all-out war in Syria would multiply the tragedy that has already befallen that country. But ‘regime change’ in Damascus involving the replacement of the current flawed government by a more pliant, pro-imperialist regime would not only compound this catastrophe for the Syrian people. It would also dramatically alter the balance of forces in the entire region, weakening the anti-imperialist forces, and further undermining the struggle of the Palestinian people. It could also serve as a prelude – and launching pad – for NATO/Israeli aggression against neighbouring Iran. For all these reasons, it is vital that every effort be made to rally the peace movement across Canada and internationally to stave off imperialist aggression, and to support a peaceful, political solution of the Syrian conflict.
16. As we are all well aware, this is once again a big election year in the U.S., and there is a major push by the far-right forces to recapture the White House and strengthen their control of Congress. The vacillations, retreats and in some cases open betrayals of the Obama Administration, and the relative passivity of the labour and people’s movements (with some notable exceptions such as the Occupy movement, and the labour-led mass struggles in Wisconsin and Ohio) have opened the door for a resurgent drive of these reactionary political and corporate interests. The experience over the past three plus years confirms the bankruptcy of reliance on the feeble bourgeois reformist positions of the Democratic Party, and the need for the labour and popular forces to break out of the discredited two-party system and forge a genuinely left/progressive social and political alternative.
17. Briefly on some other international matters, our committee should note the increasingly hostile position which the Harper government is taking towards Cuba (including its support for the U.S. stand excluding Cuba from the Summit of the Americas meeting). We will receive a report from the Cuba Bureau outlining its work over the recent period and its proposal to send a delegation to Havana later this year to learn more about the economic reforms underway in that country adopted by the 6th Congress and further developed at the National Political Conference held this past January. Special note should also be taken of a planned Canada-wide conference on “Breaking the Silence; Justice for the Cuban Five” this coming September which should receive our Party’s wholehearted support.
18. Our Committee will also receive a special report on the continuing struggle in Colombia, including the growing movement to challenge the repressive neoliberal Santos regime, and the campaign to free thousands of political prisoners held in Colombian prisons, to win just land reform and to guarantee democratic and labour rights in that country. A special resolution on Colombia will also be submitted for our consideration.
19. Finally, the Central Committee will also hear a brief report on the 13th International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ parties held in Athens this past December, and on related matters pertaining to our international movement.
The Situation in Canada and the Labour & People’s Fightback
20. To begin our discussion of the political-economic situation in Canada, let us start with the federal budget recently brought down by Finance Minister Flaherty on behalf of the Conservative government of Stephen Harper, not only because of its immediacy and drastic character, but also – and even more so – because it constitutes the cutting edge of the medium- and long-term strategic offensive of monopoly capital at this time.
21. The austerity budget has been met by a unanimous chorus of condemnation from labour, social and environmental movements since it was introduced on March 29, 2012. These critiques have pointed out for instance that, notwithstanding the Harper government’s attempts to ‘soft-peddle’ the extent of funding cuts, the impact of slashing $5.2 billion in program spending ( a 6.9 % reduction) will be substantial. The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) and many other organizations have correctly noted that the Conservatives have grossly understated the extent of public service job losses which these cuts will entail – not the 19,200 job cuts claimed by the government, but more likely 50-60,000 jobs in total, when the earlier “program review” cuts and the loss of spin-off jobs are taken fully into account – at a time when the real unemployment rate is well over 10% (and more than 20% for young people).
22. Further, that these cuts are not “back-office” reductions but rather will affect numerous frontline services to the Canadian people, covering everything from employment counsellors to food inspectors. The Feds are moving at break-neck speed to implement these cuts. According to the Public Service Alliance (PSAC), over 5,500 of their members in 22 federal government departments have already received their notice of termination. More than 1,500 scientists, veterinarians, engineers, medical doctors and other professional staff represented by the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) also received notices. Among other things, these cuts represent a further attack on academic freedom, and reinforce the anti-science biases of the Harper Tories.
23. Further, that the real extent of the program cuts will amount not to the claimed 6.9% but rather to more than 10% when inflation is taken into account over the next three years (the period covered by the budget cuts).
24. Further, that the budgetary reductions are not ‘across-the-board’, but rather fall most heavily on programs and services which the Tories want to target for political and ideological reasons, such as the environment, aboriginal affairs, the cultural/arts community and the CBC, and so on.
25. The Canadian Association of Retired Persons (CARP), labour organizations and many other groups have also condemned the changes to the pension system which will gradually increase the age of eligibility for Old Age Security (OAS) and Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) benefits from 65 to 67 years of age, starting in 2023, with full implementation by 2029. CARP spokesperson Susan Eng quite correctly pointed out that “the prospect of waiting two additional years before receiving OAS has alarmed especially low income earners who do not readily see how they can change their circumstances no matter how long it takes to phase in the changes.”
26. The Flaherty budget cuts to services and programs fall disproportionately on the most marginalized and vulnerable members of society, right down to the municipal level – racialized communities, people with disabilities, Aboriginal peoples, trans-identified people, etc.
27. Our Party joins in condemning this vicious austerity budget, the negative effects of which will be felt by all Canadians immediately and in a myriad of ways. At the same time, it is essential to realize that the Harper Tories have deceitfully tried to sell this budget as a necessary short-term ‘bitter pill’ to stem the growth of the federal deficit, and return to a balanced budget by 2015. If that was really their motivation, this could have been achieved in other ways, such as by cutting swollen military/security expenditures, by reducing corporate hand-outs, and by increasing public revenues by reversing the massive cuts in corporate and wealth taxes.
28. In fact, the Tories have used crude scare tactics of looming ‘economic meltdown’ on the scale of Greece and Spain if they fail to curb spending, while at the same time down-playing this vicious budget as ‘cautious’ and ‘moderate’ (swiftly and uncritically parroted by the mainstream corporate press). In this respect, the Flaherty budget is a skilfully cynical and dishonest piece of work, one which fits neatly into – and takes a quantum leap in advancing – monopoly’s longer-term strategic objectives, especially with respect to the role of the Canadian State. The move to realize these objectives has accelerated greatly since the Conservatives gained their majority last May, and include:
29. First, the further restriction of funding to vital public social services and programs – primarily healthcare, education, social welfare and the public pension system – fomenting a crisis in the delivery of these services to Canadians, and paving the way for their complete (or near-complete) privatization over time (depending on the level of mass resistance). The Flaherty budget centred its attack on the pension system, starting with the OAS, although the Harper government has made no secret of its intention to bring in similar and more sweeping ‘reforms’ to the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) as well. With respect to healthcare, education, and social welfare, this was addressed in the pre-budget announcement by Flaherty last December that beginning in 2014, the federal government would begin capping payments to the provinces under the Canada Health Transfer (CHT) and Canada Social Transfer (CST), and would henceforth remove all restrictions on the use of these funds by provinces. This is a further step in the process – begun under the previous Chrétien/Martin Liberal governments – to download federal funding responsibilities onto the provinces, creating an unsustainable burden, and spelling the gutting of the Canada Health Act, unless a powerful and united struggle is mounted to defend this cornerstone of Canadian social policy.
30. Second, the ramping up the repressive arm of the state – the military, police, intelligence services, state security and prison system, etc. – to extend Canada’s role in NATO, to boost the profits of ‘defence’ monopolies and to protect corporate property and wealth, and to suppress popular dissent and resistance. It is worthy to note that although there will be some cuts to civilian jobs in the Department of Defence in this budget, the military itself, the massive rearmament program (e.g the F-35 and naval procurements), the super-prisons, CSIS and the RCMP were completely unscathed. Taken together with the Omnibus Crime Bill (C-10) and other pieces of ‘security’ legislation, the labelling of Aboriginal, environmental, peace and anti-Israeli activists as ‘terrorists’, and not least the fraudulent and illegal actions of voter suppression by the Harper Conservatives during the last federal elections, this budget marks a further step in a pro-militarist and thoroughly anti-democratic direction. The dire warning which our Committee raised at its December 2010 meeting is continuing to unfold with a vengeance:
“[A]s the systemic crisis deepens and the class struggle correspondingly grows in intensity, the ruling class will use every means at its disposal to maintain its hegemony, stripping away even those democratic rights afforded under bourgeois democracy and, as a last resort, imposing fascist rule. While we have not arrived at fascism … the seeds of fascism have been laid by monopoly capital and its governments, and are beginning to sprout.”
31. Third, the restructuring of the sectoral balance of the domestic economy, marked by the increased promotion of the export-oriented resource sector and financial services, together with the further abandonment of manufacturing industries. This is particularly evident in Canada’s unilateral withdrawal from the Kyoto process, the Tories’ unabashed backing of Tar Sands development and the Northern Gateway and Keystone pipelines, and the commensurate measures to weaken the environmental impact assessment process which could slow down, restrict or prevent new resource extraction projects. This is also reflected in the Harper government’s aggressive pursuit of new multilateral trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and especially the Canada-European Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) which will further accelerate the plunder of Canada’s resources for export while undermining Canadian economic and political sovereignty. A special resolution detailing the dangerous nature of the proposed CETA deal and the need to mobilize wide public opposition to its ratification will be presented for our consideration this weekend.
32. And fourth, the intensified attack on the organized labour movement itself – the main potential bulwark standing in the way of the completion of the rest of monopoly’s class agenda outlined above. Owing to its higher union density, the public sector is coming under the sharpest attacks, but the assault on labour is across-the-board, directed at its most fundamental rights – the right to organize, to bargain collectively (including the sanctity of signed agreements which is being trampled upon with ever greater frequency), and to strike.
33. Since securing their coveted majority last May, the Harper Conservatives have moved quickly to launch an all-out war on organized labour, legislating a ‘back-to-work’ order against locked-out postal workers, and threatening similar action in disputes involving flight attendants, baggage handlers, pilots and other service workers at Air Canada – all under the specious grounds of ‘protecting Canada’s fragile economic recovery’. Labour Minister Lisa Raitt’s comment last October that there is “something wrong with the Canada Labour Code” and that the government may move to change this basic legislation regulating labour relations in the country confirm that these were hardly isolated cases, but rather part of a master plan to gut the rights of labour in general.
34. These federal assaults on free collective bargaining and the right to strike have given the green light to right-wing governments at the provincial and local levels to take similar anti-labour actions, most recently against the teachers in B.C. Meanwhile in some other key private sector disputes, the Harper government has publicly feigned neutrality while privately encouraging ruthless employers at US Steel in Hamilton, Vale Inco in Sudbury, Caterpillar in London, Rio Tinto Alcan in Alma, Québec and elsewhere in launching frontal attacks to wring concession after concession – usually with disturbing success despite determined resistance by their workers.
* * * * *
35. In the midst of the continuing effects of the global economic crisis and in the wake of the intensified attack by capital and its state, labour and democratic resistance and fightback has continued to grow across the country, although it is not yet united and combative enough to halt this offensive, much less move onto the counter-attack and shift the balance of forces in favour of the working class and its allies. Nevertheless, there are hopeful signs emerging that the base of resistance is widening, that militancy is rising, and that new forms of unity are emerging.
36. Immediately after the Harper Tories secured their majority last May, our Party predicted that the epicentre of that resistance would of necessity move decidedly outside of Parliament and into the streets and workplaces. That assessment was based not only on the obvious fact that, having gained clear majorities in both the House of Commons and the appointed Senate, the Tories now hold complete sway over the levers of government power, but also because the two main parliamentary opposition parties – the Liberals and NDP – had both bought into neoliberal dogma to such an extent they could offer no substantial alternative to the Canadian people. That prediction has been borne out: opposition to the Tory/Big Business agenda inside Parliament over the past 12 months has been lame, at best. Apologists for these parties will claim that they are powerless to stop the Harper juggernaut in any case, that they both have had interim leaders (for all or most of this period), and so on. Such rationalizations do not stand up to scrutiny however; with precious few exceptions, the parliamentary opposition has been virtually silent in mounting any substantive critique of the pro-militarist, anti-labour and anti-democratic program of the Harper majority.
37. The further drift of the New Democratic Party away from more traditional social-democratic positions and into the swamp of tepid bourgeois reformism – a protracted process over many decades but which gained momentum under Jack Layton – is particularly striking. The NDP leadership race, culminating in the election of Thomas Mulcair (a former Québec Liberal cabinet minister who ran on a platform of “modernizing” that party and moving it even more to the political ‘centre’) strongly suggests that the rightward shift of the NDP in a Blairite (“New Labour”) direction will not only continue but accelerate. This degeneration should give real pause to those left-minded rank-and-filer activists who still labour under the illusion that the NDP can be somehow transformed into an ‘anti-capitalist’ (much less a revolutionary socialist) political vehicle.
38. By contrast, the fightback in the extra-parliamentary arena has been growing in many parts of the country and in some cases has been remarkably vibrant, beginning with the Occupy movement which began last fall and captured the imagination of thousands of participants and active supporters in a large number of urban centres across the country (and elsewhere around the world). While this movement has been plagued from the outset by a number of weaknesses – including the absence of a clear alternative program and a worship of spontaneity – it nonetheless has succeeded in drawing many new, mostly young people into political action, has employed both traditional and creative, new tactics of non-violent struggle, and has drawn broad public attention to issues such as widening social disparity, unemployment and other injustices and depravities of the prevailing capitalist order. In many cases, it has enjoyed the active backing and support of organized labour and other people’s forces. The Party joined in many of the mass actions organized by or in support of the Occupy movement, and a number of our comrades were directly involved in some centres, and we should continue to support this movement, and increase our active participation within it.
39. The continuing strike struggle of students in Québec against the move of the Charest government to impose massive tuition increases throughout the CECEP/university system in that province is without doubt the most dynamic mass democratic struggle in many years (at least since the mass anti-Iraq war mobilizations in 2003). The breadth of the strike movement, which now includes almost all post-secondary institutions in Québec, the militancy of their fightback – which has included (among many other actions) shutting down the port of Montréal one day when shore workers decided to respect their picket lines and the March 22 protest march in Montreal that drew over 250,000 people – and the degree to which the labour movement, social organizations, and the public at large have rallied to their side – all this has put the provincial government sharply on the defensive. Our comrades in the PCQ will give a full report on these historic developments, and our Party extends its full solidarity to this struggle and should do everything possible to help publicize and build support for this battle elsewhere across the country.
40. This mood of resistance is reflected on several other fronts as well throughout the labour, Aboriginal, peace, environmental, civic reform and other democratic movements. Our Party has been active in a number of these important struggles, not least of which has been the struggle by farmers against the undemocratic Tory destruction of the Canadian Wheat Board, and the mass pushback against vicious cuts brought down by the Ford administration in Toronto. It is also apparent in the growing support for the May Day movement in a number of centres across Canada. In Toronto, for instance, three organizing centres – the May 1st Movement, No One Is Illegal (NOII) and Occupy Toronto – have agreed to organize a united May Day march, which marks a significant advance in that city. The Central Committee urges all levels of the party to support and help build these actions wherever possible.
41. The biggest weakness restraining the fuller development of the fightback movement however remains the paucity of leadership coming from the upper echelons of the trade union movement, especially the Canadian Labour Congress itself. This is hardly a new problem, but the continuing socio-economic impact of the capitalist crisis on our class, and the intensity and all-sided nature of the anti-people offensive which has come in its wake, bring this inadequacy into ever sharper relief, and with ever-worsening consequences. The continuing predominance of business unionism and class collaborationism among the top reaches of the CLC and most of its big affiliates comes with a price tag which our class and its allies simply can no longer afford. There are some hopeful exceptions of course, such as in Ontario where the OFL has moved to build a broad labour-community “common front” against austerity. But the situation at an all-Canada level remains completely wanting. Fully three and one-half years into the crisis, with a Harper majority ruling the roost in Ottawa and right-wing governments most everywhere else at the provincial and local levels, and with a vicious onslaught by employers at every bargaining table and on every shop-floor, the CLC leadership has yet to draw the entire labour movement and its social partners together to map out and launch a concerted counter-attack. Ours is a small party, with few cadres in the labour movement, but nevertheless we need to have a frank and comprehensive discussion about how we can contribute to helping turn this situation around. Surely part of the answer, as we have concluded many times before, involves building left caucuses where none currently exist, and in re-energizing those that do.
A Few Brief Points on Party Work
42. All of the above considerations point inextricably to the urgency for us to grow our Party, our Press and the YCL. While there are some encouraging signs of advance in some regions and centres, and with respect to some aspects of our work, the situation overall is hardly sufficient. As the leading body, we must make a strong case for the importance of party-building – first and foremost with our own members – and turn the Party and its public face more aggressively outwards.
43. Over the course of the weekend, we will receive more detailed reports on some aspects of our work, including the press, our internet work, and the YCL. During the course of our discussions we need to look at these and other areas of party work, identifying both the objective hurdles and subjective shortcomings we face and take action to overcome them to the maximum extent that circumstances permit.
44. With respect to the press, for instance, we are holding our own but still treading water, so to speak. And yet some of our press-builders are showing in practice that it is possible to grow our paid circulation. We need to learn from these positive experiences and replicate them wherever possible.
45. Our Internet Bureau is doing some very good work on our central site, and more provincial and even local sites are being built. But we need to make much greater use of other publicity and organizing tools, such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, discussion blogs and so forth.
46. Our educational and ideological work is still lagging in some respects. This as we know bears a heavy cost, not only in terms of the political and ideological clarity we bring to our ongoing work, but also because education is key to the retention of new members, and to the development of new party cadres at every level. A new issue of Spark! is out, and another is in the hopper, but we must make a much more concerted effort to circulate and promote our journal. Another Central Party School is being organized for this coming August, but we still need to regularize our educational activities centrally, and in conjunction with provincial and even local schools. The initiative of the BC Committee to build locally-centred Marxist reading groups involving both party and non-party supporters is very encouraging – so far three have been formed. We should work to emulate this good example in other centres as well. Another challenge we face is the growing scarcity of quality Marxist-Leninist materials in published form. While our capacity to undertake new publishing projects is extremely limited due to the tautness of party finances, it is possible to provide limited copies of scanned materials to Party Clubs (along with study guides) for local use, and to post electronic versions on our sites for local download.
47. One of the most effective ways to build our ranks and increase our influence is through mass campaigning, both during and between elections. At our 36th Convention, we agreed that the Centre would organize at least one mass campaign every year. As 2012 is an off-election year federally, the CEC is proposing that we organize an extra-parliamentary mass campaign this coming fall, possibly around the theme “Austerity and the Alternative”; that the campaign include both agitational and propaganda components; that it include the production of a number of materials for local campaign use,; and that it take place over a six-week period. We hope that following discussion we can reach agreement around the theme, timetable and main components we want to include, so that we can move forward with more detailed planning and execution.
48. Finally, the Central Executive will be bringing forward a special resolution on the date and location of our next, 37th Central Convention, and proposing a time-line for CC and central party work in preparation for it.
Thank you for your attention. Let the discussion begin!