First Published: The Forge, Vol. 5, No. 7, February 22, 1980
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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Just over 5,300 working people in Canada voted for the WCP as the working-class alternative in last Monday’s federal election.
“This is our first election campaign, and the party’s name was not even on the ballots, yet the results are very positive,” said WCP Chairman Roger Rashi. “The votes we received are conscious ones in support of our program.”
WCP candidates raised the demand for a freeze on energy prices, the protection of workers’ standard of living and union rights, and the defence of Quebec’s right to self-determination.
Most importantly, they hit hard at the big business parties’ defence of capitalism and pointed out that only in a socialist Canada will workers win political, social, and economic justice.
By popularizing this program, along with key local issues, WCP candidates on the whole made a good showing. In Beauharnois-Salaberry, candidate Marc Laviolette, a chemical plant worker well-known among trade-unionists, polled 391 votes.
Three Montreal-area candidates also received over 300 votes each, including hospital worker Louise Baillargeon, who obtained 342 in Laurier and Robert Cote, who polled 314 votes in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve.
In the New Brunswick riding of Gloucester, where the mainly Acadian population faces high unemployment, 196 people cast their ballot for WCP member Rose-Helene Aube, a founder of the Bathurst unemployed workers’ committee.
In Regina East 153 people supported Dave Lampert, a Saskatchewan government employee and union activist who made the NDP’s anti-labour policies a focal point of his campaign.
In British Columbia, WCP candidate Paul Tetrault used every opportunity to publicize the Party’s program, from picket lines of postal workers and Adams Lab strikers to visits in the Chinese community. In Ontario, WCP candidates used dozens of all-candidates meetings to challenge the main parties on issues they would have preferred to ignore.
Votes were highest in Quebec and especially in Montreal, where most WCP candidates were concentrated and Party militants have gained wide influence after several years of organizing.
In the larger urban centres in English Canada, such as Vancouver, Toronto and Hamilton, where Party work has begun more recently, WCP candidates were present in only one or two ridings. This meant many Party supporters in various factories and communities where the WCP has built up its influence could not vote for the WCP.
Across the country the campaign allowed the WCP to demarcate itself from the pro-Moscow Communist Party and the police goons of Bains’s CPCML.
The CP ran 52 candidates and the CPCML 181, compared to the WCP’s 29 . Yet WCP candidates across Canada received an average of 183 votes – more than double the average of the largely-phantom candidates presented by the CPCML.
Though the revisionist CP ran nearly twice the number of candidates the WCP did, it received barely 700 more votes in all.
Both these parties have run several times in past elections and have had their party names on the ballots, while the WCP had to deal with less favorable conditions in these elections. Yet significantly, in eight out of the 12 ridings where the WCP faced candidates from both of the so-called communist parties, it came out ahead of both, often with more than their totals combined.
In Papineau, for example, WCP member Ghislaine Cloutier earned 239 votes compared to 145 for both CPCML and the CP. In Laurier, their combined vote of 167 does not come near Baillargeon’s total of 342.
The WCP campaign allowed people to see that communism has nothing to do with the CP’s slavish licking of Brezhnev’s boots or the empty sloganeering of Bains’ hooligans. With a genuine socialist program the WCP was able to emerge as a real alternative to these sham parties.
The votes received by WCP candidates were only a small part of the widespread influence gained by the Party during the elections.
Over 200,000 copies of the WCP’s election program and another 300,000 local candidates’ leaflets were distributed in the major regions of the country.
In Richelieu, where WCP candidate Jean-Paul Cadorette visited factories, met workers daily on picket lines and in shopping centres, a local radio station described his campaign as “the most active conducted by any party.”
Across Canada, thousands of workers met and talked with communists for the first time and many have become actively involved in the WCP’s work.
Out of this intense campaign have come many new fighters for a socialist Canada, anxious to help build the WCP as the political alternative for the working class.
 Note: Elections in the Frontenac riding, where the 30th WCP candidate, Hugues Gilbert, was running, were cancelled because of the death of a candidate. Gilbert will run in the by-election.