Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Documents of the National Conference on the Unity of Canadian Marxist-Leninists

Montreal, October 9, 1976

Speech Of The Canadian Communist League (Marxist-Leninist) (CCL(ML))


The CCL(ML) is a revolutionary organization which is firmly engaged in the struggle for the creation of an authentic Marxist-Leninist communist Party in our country. Since its creation a year ago by the unity of three M-L groups in Montreal, the League has undertaken the struggle against opportunism and for the development of a correct political line, for the greatest unity of Marxist-Leninists and for winning advanced workers to communism.

In spite of the criticism we have made on the way this conference has been organized, we have come here today to clearly express our point of view. Above all we wish to rectify some gross deformations which presently circulate in the M-L movement, of our positions. On the basis of these rectifications, the debate could proceed in a better way.


In class struggle, unity is both essential and indispensable. The fundamental interest of the entire proletariat is to overthrow its principal enemy the Canadian bourgeoisie, to completely eliminate exploitation, to replace the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie by armed struggle with the dictatorship of the proletariat and to build socialism. This is why it must be organized into a large army which will concentrate all its forces against a target. And such an army must have unified leadership. This is what we are fighting for in our struggle for the creation of a Marxist-Leninist Communist party in Canada.

The struggle of communists to build their unity is a question of principle. And because it is a question of principle, it must be dealt with scientifically by relying on Marxism-Leninism and Mao Tsetung Thought. We must analyse the situation in a dialectical materialist perspective in order to ask the right questions and find the correct answers.

Who Do We Want To Unite?

First of all, who do we want to unite? We don’t want unity simply for the sake of acting together but because we need unity in order to make revolution. This means that we must unite authentic revolutionaries, those who are capable of leading the proletariat to victory. It does not mean bringing together revolutionaries with opportunists who lead the working class to defeat, or with counter-revolutionaries who stand before it in order to block its advance.

Counter-revolutionaries must be smashed and opportunists exposed for what they are. Within the ranks of communists where contradictions are not antagonistic, we must carry out the struggle according to the method of unity-criticism-unity. That is to start from the existing unity and through ideological struggle distinguish the true from the false and resolve the differences over the principal questions of political line one by one. We must resolutely demarcate ourselves from incorrect positions within the Marxist-Leninist movement and struggle firmly against them.

There are some who say that it is obvious that we must not unite genuine with sham revolutionaries. However, comrades, we must be able to draw political conclusions from this.

We must know how to determine precisely who the authentic communists are. To refuse to do this or to be liberal about this question as IN STRUGGLE! (IS) is, is extremely dangerous. The League considers that it is the responsibility of Canadian communists to analyse the political line and the practice of the different groups in our country in order to determine who in fact belongs to the Marxist-Leninist movement.

We use three criteria in order to determine if a group is a genuine communist group: (1) firmly basing oneself on the fundamental principles of Marxism-Leninism; (2) resolutely fighting against opportunism and, (3) undertaking revolutionary practice especially in the struggle for the creation of the party.

Naturally we must keep in mind the unequal development of the movement in our country. We do not expect the same thing from an indidividual as from a group or even from groups from different regions. But all communists meet these general criteria.

For example, IS is a communist group. On the other hand, “CPC(ML)” and opportunist groups like RCT, Mobilisation and APLQ have never been part of the Marxist-Leninist movement.

But once we’ve distinguished the communists from the opportunists and the counter-revolutionaries one important question remains to be answered:

Why Are Communists Still Divided In Canada?

In order to respond to this question correctly, we must first remember that Canadian communists were not always divided. Once they were united in the CPC, the vanguard of the working class in the struggle for socialism. The betrayal of the revisionists more than twenty years ago turned the CPC into a revisionist party which has sold out to the interests of the capitalists, has become an agent of social-imperialism and has shattered the unity of communists.

The modern revisionists with the CPSU at their head are responsible for dividing the communist forces.

Since this betrayal Canadian communists have been fighting to rebuild the Marxist-Leninist movement step by step. We are struggling to unite on the basis of a correct application of Marxist-Leninist principles to the concrete conditions of our country. We are struggling to win over the most advanced workers to communism and to destroy the influence of the revisionists.

Within this struggle to create a new communist party right opportunism, capitulation to the bourgeoisie, is the principal danger. In a young movement such as ours bourgeois ideology, in particular revisionism, is strong and attempts to divert us from our revolutionary path.

An example: In the past, communists in Canada agreed that the Canadian bourgeoisie was the principal enemy. But afterwards the revisionists spread all sorts of incorrect positions on this question and confused the relationship between the struggle for socialism and that for national independence.

The effects of this continue today in the identification of the principal contradiction. The question of the relationship between the different enemies of the Canadian revolution is still central to the debates in the Marxist-Leninist movement. The positions of many Marxist-Leninists, especially those of the group IS, on this question are still strongly marked by right opportunism. They do not define the principal contradiction in Canada as that between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat and do not clearly define the two most important secondary contradictions: that which opposes not only the Canadian proletariat but the entire Canadian people to the two superpowers, particularly US imperialism, and the Quebec national question.

It is only through resolute struggle against this right opportunism that we can reach agreement over the correct definition of the path of the Canadian revolution.

The Principal Danger: Right Opportunism

And on the question of the unity of Marxist-Leninists, the principal danger which hinders the struggle is also right opportunism – the tendency to unite without principles and on a flimsy basis.

There have been several examples of this over the past years: the CSLO, the Comite ad hoc, IS’s project A, and more recently the Vancouver Liaison Committee. Another manifestation of right opportunism has been the hesitations of Marxist-Leninist collectives across the country to take positions on important questions and to defend these positions within the communist, movement. Small group mentality and localism are still very much present. As for IS, it has constantly refused to reply to the League’s criticisms and has not carried out struggle over the principal questions of political line.

These errors have prevented the clarification of questions under debate and resolution of the contradictions which divide us. It has thus retarded the unity of communists.

The comrades who incorrectly identify the principal danger in the struggle for unity are making a grave error.

IS maintains that it is sectarianism and in particular the sectarianism of our organization which is the problem. IS complains that the League doesn’t want unity, that we consider ourselves to be the only communists in the country, etc. In reality these accusations have absolutely no foundation.

The League has resolutely carried out the struggle for unity ever since its creation. Indeed the creation of the League was the product of a struggle for unity which had as its goal the development of the struggle for unity on a higher basis.

We have debated with several other communists in the country and we have devoted many pages in our paper to polemics and to the ideological struggle. Perhaps IS thinks that we are doing this simply to pass the time of day.

We have criticized other Marxist-Leninists’ positions precisely because we are seeking unity, because we want to resolve the contradictions which presently divide our movement and build a solid unity based on a correct political line.

IS confuses the League’s firmness on principles for sectarianism. This leads them to continue their own opportunist errors over the question of unity and drags other militants across the country into making the same errors. The latest method of unity of communists which IS has presented may have a different appearance than the previous ones, but In Struggle has remains faithful to the right opportunist line that IS has always put forward on the questions of unity.

During the past three years In Struggle has proposed a complete array of methods, plans, projects and plots for unity. Throughout this they have, however, systematically forgotten questions of political line. Their own line has remained confused over several important questions and they have not carried out ideological struggle. The political basis on which they want to achieve unity has always remained vague.

In Struggle’s last proposal for a congress to create a Marxist-Leninist organization (according to IS, THE organization) after a period of wide-spread discussion is nothing more than another manifestation of right opportunism.

As usual, In Struggle proposes first of all method, an organizational form for unity, even before clearly specifying the political line on which this unity should be achieved. We maintain that the organizational form of unity depends on the result of the ideological struggle. It is determined by the manner in which political unity is achieved.

After refusing to rigorously define who belongs to the Marxist-Leninist movement, after confounding opportunists with authentic revolutionaries the idea of determining the political line of an organization by a vote is rather dangerous.

Comrades, what would happen if by chance, the majority of those present supported an incorrect line? We’d find ourselves with an organization which supposedly regroups all the Marxist-Leninists but based around an incorrect political line. The struggle for the creation of the party wouldn’t have advanced an inch.

If unity between In Struggle and the League could be reached on the basis of correct political line, this would be a great step forward towards achieving Marxist-Leninist unity. If not, this would have grave effects on the growth of the revolutionary movement in our country.

How Do We Carry Out The Struggle For Unity?

Comrades, a month ago the League put forward proposals for intensifying the struggle for the unity of Marxist-Leninists. In a call to all communists we proposed the continuation of open polemics, the initiation of private discussions and the convening of open debates between Marxist-Leninist groups. While this appeal was made to the entire movement the subject was addressed particularly to In Struggle!

We are of course in favour of debating with other communist groups, but it is evident that debates between In Struggle and the League are most important and that they will enable the entire Marxist-Leninist movement to advance. These two formations are the most developed both from the point of view of political line and organization. Their agitation and propaganda extend throughout the country and there is a polarization of the entire movement with respect to In Struggle and the League.

If unity were achieved between In Struggle and the League on the basis of a correct political line, this would be a great step forward towards the unity of Marxist-Leninists. If not, this would have serious consequences on the development of the revolutionary movement in our country.

It is very important that In Struggle and the League confront each other in public debates over their different positions.

Unfortunately In Struggle seems to be trying to avoid meeting the League in public debate. They haven’t published a reply to our call and they refuse to reply because they consider the “objective” of such debates unclear.

What, comrades, is not clear?

The League wants to publicly debate with In Struggle in order to address the principal points which separate us and to advance the struggle for the unity of communists in Canada.

Why does In Struggle reject this offer?

Unity Is Vital, A Practical Necessity

Comrades, we have said that we have disagreements on the way in which this conference was organized. We want to explain them briefly here. We do not think that In Struggle should organize it alone; that, in the interest of unity, it should have organized such a conference jointly with the League and, if possible, with other communist groups. We think that it is opportunist of In Struggle to associate this conference with the anniversary of the group itself. Finally, we think that it is erroneous of In Struggle to organize a debate on unity before having clarified its own positions and before being engaged in a debate on the principal positions of political line.

Unity is vital, a practical necessity if we want to advance toward; proletarian revolution in our country.

Today the effects of the crisis weigh more and more heavily on the working class and the masses. The fightback of the proletariat is advancing and in a few days, despite the sabotage of the reformist union bureaucrats, we will see this country’s first general strike.

On the international scale the rivalry of the two superpowers is increasing each day and the danger of the outbreak of a new world war is growing.

Under such conditions, comrades, we must redouble our efforts to build the unity of authentic Marxist-Leninists in Canada. We must struggle to achieve an unshakeable unity, a unity solidly based on a correct political line.

Comrades, the tasks that await us are immense. We must assume great responsibilities to carry out the struggle for the creation of a new Marxist-Leninist communist party in Canada. We cannot allow ourselves to unite on a flimsy basis. We do not want unity at all costs. We do not want unity with just anyone.

We want the unity of communists, an iron unity solidly based on Marxism-Leninism – Mao Tsetung Thought, a unity which will advance the cause of proletarian revolution in our country.