The following is the transcript of the question period of the press conference held in Toronto on Friday, November 4, by the Joint Committee of the East Indian Defence Committee, the West Indian People’s Organization and the Canadian People’s (Citizens and Residents) Defence Committee. Comrade Hardial Bains answered questions from reporters about the November 6 demonstration in Toronto against state-organized racist attacks, and about the distortions in the press regarding this demonstration.
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Q. Comrade Bains, do you not feel associating racism with what some people regard as fringe politics taints the situation? In other words, will make it so that people become so confused between what is real and what isn’t... You know it isn’t a political thing. So the basic question is: Do you not feel association with a fringe political group is doing damage to what you call the cause?
First of all, racism is a political issue. Racism is the politics of exploiting large sections of the immigrants here for the purposes of making maximum profit. The newspapers every day report how the capitalists will hire only immigrants from certain areas and pay them less so that they can make large amounts of profits. If you go into the change in immigration policy in 1966, and go into the reasons why it was changed you will find it was changed to flood the Canadian labour market with large amounts of immigrants who can be exploited, because even in 1966 there were enough unemployed existing here who could be used as workers. You have to look at the question of racism in the very definite form in which it has come up in the 20th century. Racism is used to justify the oppression of the people in Asia, Africa and Latin America; it is used to justify the inequalities internationally, and it is also used to justify what happens to immigrants here in Canada. Racism is a political question,and you are wrong to suggest that racism is not a political question.
Q. Alright then, let me add something else to it. Does the man in the street know that? If in fact that is true, which many people would question, does the man in the street know it, and are you in fact not doing damage to the ways that will presently do it in the context of this present society, that is through Mr. Pitman’s task force, etc.?
In a society, people ire represented by their political parties. In Canada, there are the capitalist politicians with their propaganda – for example, the capitalist propaganda is that everyone is a racist. Because capitalists are racists, they are accusing everyone that they are racists. So the Attorney General goes on television and says that everybody is a racist. Pitman goes on television and says that everybody is a racist. But the issue is, that those who set the policies for the state, are they racist or not? It’s not the layman on the street who is responsible for writing the “Green Paper” on immigration, or the anti-immigrant Bill C-24. When we talk about views and policies and all this, we have to look into those who are responsible for setting those policies. And let me just mention to you one thing: I do not believe that it is the layman on the street who attacks the immigrants. There have been many cases, and there will be more exposures that in groups like the fascist Western Guard, there were RCMP agents who actually organized these attacks. In Vancouver, when I was attacked in 1975, that I should be deported for my views, in fighting the racist attacks, on one side there were three Conservative MP’s. On the other hand the masses of the people supported us. There was not a single demonstration or march calling for my deportation by the ordinary people in Vancouver. Rather, hundreds came to our meetings to denounce the propaganda of the Conservatives. So let us not talk in this way, that there is a layman. We are interested in talking about those who are responsible for racist attacks: government and the state, who set the policies. Now, if they are such “anti-racists”, then why don’t they set these anti-racist policies?
Q. You’ll have to pardon my absolute ignorance on this, but what are the functions of the “national leader” of the East Indian community. I don’t want another lengthy answer. Is it an elected position?
Every community has its leaders... every community has its traitors. In Canada, the East Indian community right from the beginning has been led on one side by those people who oppose the attacks on the East Indian community. A leader is known by the fact of whether he defends the integrity and dignity of the community or not. On the other hand you have the traitors to the community.
Q. I don’t care about the other hand. I just want to know about the description of you as national leader of the East Indian community.
Well, you can go and ask the East Indians. Our East Indian organizations have thousands of members, and they acknowledge myself as their leader.
Q. By election?
Well, you can say by acclamation – it’s more than by election (laughter).
Q. Well, of course, naturally in this room that would be very amusing, I happen to consider elections to be very just, however, and I’m stating my bias there, but I consider elections to be very...
I can mention to you this much, that if there was a referendum in the East Indian community, and you can ask the state to organize it, I would win as the national leader of the East Indian community.
Q. Can you say that that goes hand in hand with being Chairman of the Communist Party of Canada? There’s no conflict of interest whatsoever that way?
O.K. It’s very good that you raise the issue. Now, when you have say, the Attorney General speaking, he’s Progressive Conservative. When he’s speaking you people say he’s representative of the government. Or you take a judge, do you ask his political affiliation? Like Wagner in Quebec, and I can give examples from Ontario as well, who can be at one time the leader of the PC’s and another time a judge, and many examples can be given here, from Ontario as well as from other places. Now, Pitman fought for the NDP leadership... Now, do you raise the issue of the politics of these individuals when they mouth their erroneous ideas on racism.
Q. Well, no, my point is, or question, point to question is how do you justify being national leader of the East Indian community and affiliated with a political party.
Well, what’s the contradiction there?
Q. Well, surely, eh, you know there, the, the, the, eh, you know there is, there is a contradiction. Surely all the East Indian people in this country are not communists.
This is where you are causing confusion. All the Ontarians – are they PC’s? Then, you have Trudeau’s government – is everyone Liberal in Canada? When the representation takes place, you have Trudeau “representing” Canadians. Same way in the East Indian community, the fact that I am of East Indian origin, at the same time, I belong to a political party, just like anyone else. Like, there was a meeting last week. Did you ask all those people who came there to prostrate in front of the Attorney General as to which political views they had, which parties?
Q. It’s not the same thing...
It is. It is the same thing. Because by raising this question you are mystifying a fact, and let me enunciate that fact to you – that only communists are vigorously fighting for the interests of the national minorities, whether it is of Native people, or people from Asia, Africa and Latin America. And the press has been raising this bogey, that why are these communists behind these people fighting the racist attacks. We have been fighting against racist attacks for the last seven or eight years.
Q. Well, I don’t think that the press is suddenly newly amused by communists being behind any current...
They are. The press has been reporting... Whenever I speak within the East Indian community.
Q. However, what are your plans vis-à-vis this demonstration?
Well, this press conference is called in opposition to the propaganda of CFTO television, which carried erroneous propaganda on two fronts. One, they had a sensational news last week saying that one of the people from the Joint Committee attacked an alderman. So, I would like to make a statement that no member of the Joint Committee or of CPC(M-L) attacked an alderman. In fact, this alderman in the Riverdale area has been organizing police to attack members of CPC(M-L) and of the Joint Committee. And they have already arrested four people in the last two or three days. That’s number one.
Number two, is that there has been insinuation that we are organizing this demonstration to attack someone. As Comrade Doug has pointed out, we are not going to attack anyone except what our leaflets say. So now those people who are talking about us attacking someone, they must have in mind to attack us there. And we strongly feel that it is the police which is behind these people to organize a provocation. Now, I say to you, as well as the Joint Committee has announced, that our demonstration is against state-organized racist attacks. We are not organizing against anyone’s demonstration and we will go there in exactly the same manner we organized demonstrations other times and we have organized many demonstrations over the years, against the state-organized racist attacks.
So, the plan is to go to City Hall, have distribution of literature, shout slogans, and then have speeches from representatives of various organizations, and then march through the national minority areas vigorously, and then have a rally at the end of that. There is no other plan whatsoever. And those individuals who went on CFTO TV saying that they have security and all this, they should have security against the state, not against us. Because we don’t go around attacking the people. And if they have someone in their ranks from the police who wants to organize some kind of a provocation, we will do everything possible to organize the people against them. Because in our community, in the East Indian community, the state will find out and the state is finding out as well as these people, that we are not in any way isolated. We have maximum support amongst the people and they will not tolerate these kinds of individuals who are provoking fights in the East Indian community.
Now, let me just make a final comment on this. These individuals who go on television, they are known only to the police and the press. Nobody knows them in the community and the press is criminal that they describe East Indians as Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims. They are not Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims. They are Canadians of East Indian origin, resident here. And the Sikh temples do not represent the East Indian community, nor do those organizations which are funded by the state. Now, the Toronto Star has said many times that the Sikh Temple on Pape Avenue represents 20,000 Sikhs, resident in Toronto. First of all, it is very doubtful whether there are 20,000 Punjabis in Toronto, number one. Number two, there are half a dozen Sikh temples, and these Sikh temples do not attract hordes of people to go there. And these people have no support, and they are using religion in order to attract people. Otherwise, if they organize a meeting inside the community they will have no one to come. So, as far as our views are concerned, they are very straight: that we are not organizing to have a fight with anyone. We are not organizing to have the community fighting with one another. We are organizing to fight the state-organized racist attacks.
Q. Do you feel that demonstrations are going to be effective against this kind of racism and bigotry. Isn’t that going to enflame bigots and racists?
Demonstrations are a form of propaganda. The oppressed masses cannot stop doing propaganda for their cause. Now, if the bigots get enflamed, there is another policy of East Indian Defence Committee as well as these other organizations, that is to fight these bigots. Now, we have said many times that people who are attacked should defend themselves. And our policy on defence is that if you are attacked, you resist. You retaliate. You don’t run away as cowards.
Q. What do demonstrations have to do with that?
A lot to do with that because we popularize to the masses of the people what is the basis of racist attacks and how we should fight them. It is a massive propaganda campaign. We have produced more than a hundred thousand leaflets. I don’t think that there is any place in Toronto in the East Indian and West Indian communities where our leaflets have not gone.
Q. What is this Sunday demonstration? Whose is it? Is it, the Communist Party’s or is it a political rally or what?
Well, as I said before, the struggle against racism is politics. Capitalists follow the politics to enrich themselves. The people fight them so that they are not exploited. It is a political rally in that sense. But it is not a rally organized by CPC(M-L), by the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist). All rallies or demonstrations which the Party organizes, it puts its name on it, and it does not let anyone give their names or confuse the matter.
Q. Are you saying then that this is not a rally sponsored by the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist)?
This is not a rally sponsored by the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist).
Q. How long have you been Chairman of the Communist Party of Canada?
Well, the position of the Chairman doesn’t go back. The Party was founded in 1970.
Q. But you sir, personally, how long have you been Chairman of the Party?
Since the Second Congress which was in 1973.
Q. You were Chairman of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist)?
Previously, there was a period when there was someone else. He was General Secretary. There used to be a position of General Secretary as leader of the Party, and he was only for a few months. He was expelled for advocating terrorism. So, in the main from 1970-1977 – the Party was founded in 1970, from that time on to 1977, I have been the Chairman or you can say, the leader, in the main.
Q. Just a point of interest, what percentage of the national East Indian community in Canada would you feel are communist?
Well, we estimated once and I can give you the exact numbers. Our estimation is that there are 751 members or supporters of the Party in the East Indian community, who will pay dues, come to meetings, and all this. As far as sympathisers are concerned, in British Columbia we have ...
Q. What is the number of East Indians?
Just the East Indians, the number of East Indians is just over 100,000.
Q. Now, how many of them would you think would be...
People who sympathise with us, I would say that percentage-wise would be 5-10% who would openly associate with us. East Indian Defence Committee has over 2,000 members, card-carrying members.
Q. Who are the leaders of the East Indian Defence Committee, the West Indian People’s Organization and the Canadian People’s Defence Committee?
The president of EIDC is Bela Singh Thandi. He is from Vancouver. He has been elected in the national convention which is held every year. He has been elected right from when the first convention was held. Now, the West Indian People’s Organization, they haven’t had their first convention yet. They are organizing to have a convention, which will be held after preparation and all this. They started organizing this organization in the last couple of years. Now, as far as Canadian People’s Defence Committee, is concerned, Comrade Doug Wahlsten is the leader or you can say, acting-president.
Q. What kind of membership do these committees have, in numbers.
I wouldn’t know, EIDC is the only one which has been functioning for a long time, and it is a formal organization with memberships, with conventions and all this. There will be a convention here in Toronto sometime in the first week of January. You can come there and see whether the East Indians support us or not. I don’t know the others.
Q. I don’t care whether they support you or not.
Well, O.K., I don’t know the others because they are just organizing.
Q. Well, how many people belong to the EIDC.
I said just over 2,000.
Q. That’s all across Canada, eh?
Across Canada is far more than that.
Q. How many would you say in Ontario, or just in Toronto for example?
That’s the number I gave you. In Southern Ontario over 2,000 people, of which the main concentration is in Toronto and Hamilton. As well, there are people in London, Windsor, Kitchener-Waterloo, this area.