Canadian elections :
Down with the electoral circus
Long live the struggle of the proletariat
(«Proletarian»;Nr. 7; Summer 2011)
On May 2 the Canadian parliamentary circus will stage its umpteenth performance for the election of a new federal government.
The various parties of the bourgeoisie are falling over each other to participate in this charade once more and to convince workers that in voting for them they will improve their lot!
Meanwhile the living conditions of the proletarian class continue to deteriorate including job cuts, as with the announced closure in 2012 of the Electrolux appliance factory located in the town of L’Assomption, Quebec. The attacks against the social gains won through hard struggles of workers, continue across Canada, as in the last budget of the Quebec finance minister Raymond Bachand . The tuition fees for this province’s universities, which are historically the lowest in North America will increase $ 325 per year from 2012 onwards in order to reach the Canadian average, from $ 2,168 (current levels) to $ 3,793 per annum! Contributions to the Quebec Pension Plan were also increased, thereby increasing the pressure on proletarian incomes, and an increased penalty from 0.5% to 0.6% for those retiring before age 65 was introduced.
In Toronto, the largest Canadian city, the mayor newly elected in 2010, Rob Ford, wants to privatize much of the waste collection, the Toronto Housing Corporation and “anything that is not written in stone”, ie much of the city’s public works. The goal is to reduce the working conditions of the proletariat who work in the public services as much as possible.
The Conservative government’s latest budget in March of this year introduced a planned increase in contributions to employment insurance, a cut in taxes for large companies, a freeze in operating expenses of Crown corporations like the CBC and Canada Post to prevent any wage increase for employees, etc...
This is just a foretaste of what awaits the Canadian working class, because of the effects of the capitalist crisis which continues to intensify, requiring the bourgeoisie to increase its exploitation by attacking its conditions of life and work, including slashing gains previously granted to maintain social peace. The proletariat can only answer back with struggle – not through elections.
Contrary to the myth propagated by the ruling class, its media monopoly, bourgeois institutions (schools, churches, etc ...) the reformist parties and trade unions, elections do not represent any expression of “popular will” . The orientation of public policy is determined by the interests of large capitalist groups for whom the bourgeois state is a servant.
The elections are used only to mystify the proletariat into believing that the ballot may help to “change things”. They perpetuate the democratic illusions that all “citizens” are equal and that the state is a neutral institution politely obeying little pieces of paper deposited in the ballot box; and therefore that there is no need of class struggle. These illusions, which are a major obstacle to the resumption of the class struggle, help to maintain the powerful myth that democratic institutions can be used to advance the interests of the proletariat, whereas in reality they are in the exclusive service of the ruling class and are used to suppress the proletarian struggle.
One aspect of these elections (the fourth in seven years!) is the campaign initiated by the reformist left, which calls for no votes for the Conservative Party of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, in power since January 2006, and which would be particularly dangerous and reactionary. Without doubt the party is deeply reactionary and anti-worker, but how is it different from the other bourgeois parties? The Liberal Party of Canada has been the main party of the bourgeoisie since Canadian Confederation in 1867 and has consistently attacked the rights and interests of the proletariat, especially with the War Measures Act in 1970 under the pretext of quelling an apprehended insurrection in Quebec. The Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff, has promised he will continue the imperialist intervention in Afghanistan if re-elected! When it he was in power in the 90s, the Liberal Party brutally cut Unemployment Insurance and diverted funds for this program to offset the federal deficit! The New Democratic Party (still a paper members of the reformist Second International) focuses its rhetoric on support to families and improved health care for seniors. The regionalist bourgeois nationalist Bloc Québécois, speaks only of “Quebec’s interests”, as if workers and employers in Quebec had similar interests! As for the Green Party of Canada, it simply proposes to humanize the management of the environment within capitalism, when it is precisely capitalism which is responsible for the continuing deterioration of the environment. All this reveals a little more clearly the false alternatives presented to us by the electoral circus and demonstrates the fallacy of the “Anybody But Harper” campaign which fits perfectly in the defense of the capitalist system of exploitation by putting forward a “lesser evil” to the Conservative Party. Like the Conservatives, the promoters of this campaign are class enemies of the proletariat.
All parties represented in the Canadian Parliament voted unanimously in favor of imperialist intervention in Libya on the pretext of “protecting the life of Libyan civilians”! The Green Party is in favor of a “rapid and sustained diplomatic intervention in Libya to prevent the situation from degenerating into civil war.” “We must not lose sight of our priority – to prevent the deaths of countless innocent Libyan civilians,” reported Ellen Michelson, the Green spokesperson for Peace and Security. “Diplomatic efforts must counterbalance the military presence to ensure the maximum to avoid loss of life and structural damage.” All this verbiage is a thinly disguised support for imperialist war against Libya coated in “humanitarian concerns”. The elections divert attention away from the immediate interests of proletarians, but they also divert attention from ongoing imperialist interventions.
The party of the reformist left and the petit-bourgeois in Quebec, Quebec Solidarity participates fully in the campaign against the Conservatives. It denounces the right wing politics vigorously pursued by this party and its obsession with security, common to all bourgeois governments, and insists that the policy of the Harper government would run “counter to widely held values in the Quebec population: social justice, defense of the French language and culture, equality between women and men, development of a green Quebec, human rights, international solidarity, democracy”(1). This typical petit-bourgeois nationalist phraseology makes no mention of the working class and the class struggle and spreads the illusions of a possible “better” world under the yoke of capital!
And as for the Conservatives’ obsession with security, it is important to remember the system of security certificates which allows immigrants who are not Canadian citizens to be detained without charge or trial under the pretext of “terrorism.” The call not to vote for the Conservative Party is simply support for a fraction of the ruling class, regarded as more “enlightened”, against another that is more reactionary. The proletariat has absolutely no interest in marching off to enlist in this campaign to keep the class domination of the bourgeoisie intact .
Some far left militants, like the Maoist Revolutionary Communist Party, launched a campaign to boycott the federal elections of 2011 (2). This is a democratic campaign to boycott elections. Its proponents do not appeal to the workers to boycott the elections to make hasten the rupture with democratic illusions and for the return to class struggle, but because these elections are not democratic enough! They say their boycott campaign will serve to expose the “non-democratic” nature of these elections and to call for a struggle for “popular democracy” and “people’s power” ; apparently this struggle consists in... beginning “the discussion on how to create true equality and true democracy”! Since they want to reinforce illusions in democracy, it is natural that they do not talk about the division of “people” into opposing classes and they hide the fact that “real equality” can only come after the revolution, the destruction of the bourgeois state and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat, a necessary step to dismantle capitalism and move to a communist society without classes.
For these elections, like all others, the only position that corresponds to the interests of the proletariat is revolutionary abstentionism, position supported by the Communist Left since the early twenties (3).
The strength of the proletariat, whose exploitation gives life to all of bourgeois society, lies solely in its collective action, organized and conducted on a class basis. The electoral arena, by definition interclassist, where each isolated proletarian will separately file his ballot alongside those of individuals of all other classes, is a phony terrain that serves only the ruling class. On the one hand because the bourgeoisie has established and maintains a huge and multifaceted apparatus (media, political parties, various institutions ...) of anti-proletarian propaganda and forming of “public opinion”; and secondly because the parliament and the whole democratic political system are far removed from the real centers of power in capitalist society: their main function is to deflect the discontent into the maze of harmless alternations between bourgeois politicians from the right and the left.
To defend themselves against exploitation and repression, to fight against bourgeois politics, to express solidarity with the proletariat of other countries, the working class will have to abandon its democratic, legalistic and pacifist illusions, and come in open confrontation with the exploiting class.
The proletarian struggle does not pass through the electoral circus and bourgeois democratic institutions, it fights them! Proletarians have nothing to gain by participating in bourgeois elections where capitalism is always the winner!
The only solution for the proletariat in Canada and around the world is the resumption of the class struggle to defend its exclusive class interests continuing on to the overthrow of the capitalist system under the leadership direction of the political class party.
No to the electoral circus!
Down with capitalism, down with imperialism!
For the return of the class struggle, for the restoration of the international class party, for the international communist revolution!
(1) http: // www. quebecsolidaire.net/actualite_ nationale / elections_ federales_au_quebec_ c’est_ non_ aux_ conservateurs
International Communist Party