First Published:October No 7, Autumn 1979
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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The Political Report, presented by the outgoing Central Committee of the CCL(ML) and unanimously adopted at the Founding Congress of the Workers Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist), was an important document used by the delegates during the two-day meeting.
It was on the basis of an intense study of the Report that the delegates made the decision to dissolve the CCL(ML) and found the new Party.
This document, presented to the Congress by Chairman Roger Rashi, reflects the League’s four years of work across the country in major industries, in hospitals and the service sector, in working-class communities, among the people and the oppressed nationalities.
The brief sum-up of the situation that prevailed at the time of the creation of the League in 1975 shows to what extent communist work has developed in the last four years, as a result of the work of all our comrades. The Report also proves that the conditions for creating the party set down by the League have been successfully fulfilled. It also responds to the possible objections to the founding of the Party.
Our Party has been founded at a time of great political upheaval, both in Canada and around the world. As the Report briefly explains in its first section, this juncture is favourable to the development and consolidation of the Party within the working class.
The last section of the Report defines the Party’s tasks for the coming period and shows the way forward.
During the Congress, the discussions held in the workshops and plenary sessions on the Report enabled the delegates to enrich the final document with their own experiences of the communist work done in their regions or sectors.
Thus the Report is both a sum-up of the work and a guide for building the WCP, popularizing it and developing it fully into a vanguard party of the Canadian working class.
We also strongly encourage October readers to get their copy of the WCP’s Program and Constitution, which were adopted at the Founding Congress of the Party (now available).
The Program explains the road to socialism that the WCP is proposing to the Canadian working class and revolutionary people. The Constitution specifies the Party’s internal rules of organization as well as the rights and duties of its members.
* * *
I have been authorized by the outgoing Central Committee of the Canadian Communist League (Marxist-Leninist) to present this political report to you. It is with great pride in the work of our organization and in our comrades that I carry out this task. After four years of intense work, of numerous struggles, sacrifices and hardships, we have arrived at the first great objective we set for ourselves: the creation of the Party of the proletariat in our country.
For more than a quarter of a century now, the multinational proletariat in Canada has been deprived of the leadership of a revolutionary party. Throughout these long years, Canadian workers continued to fight against the capitalist system which exploits them, and the most advanced of these workers kept up the hope of rebuilding a vanguard party. Throughout these long years too, after many false starts, a new Marxist-Leninist movement gradually developed, which arduously took up the task of sinking its roots in the working class. The creation of the CCL(ML) in October 1975 marked the turning point in this struggle to found the Party. The Congress we are holding today is the Founding Congress of the new Communist Party. This is a historic day for the Canadian working class, a day whose importance equals that of June 1921, when the Communist Party of Canada, then a proletarian revolutionary party, was founded.
This party distinguished itself in the great class battles of the ’20s and ’30s, but later sank into revisionism, abandoning the revolutionary road of Marxism-Leninism.
Today it’s up to us to take up the challenge of building a proletarian vanguard to lead the working masses and the people towards socialist revolution in Canada. Today, it’s up to us to take up the challenge of building the revolutionary united front of the proletariat, working people and the oppressed nationalities against the Canadian bourgeoisie, our principal enemy, and the two superpowers. It’s up to us to take up the challenge of mapping out the road to socialist revolution in Canada. And we intend to take up this challenge!
The Canadian working class is a militant class. It has a history of revolutionary struggle. If we persist in following the revolutionary path of Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought, if we forge solid links with the working masses in the flames of class struggle, we will succeed in building an unbreakable unity between the working class and its Party. This unbreakable unity is the essential condition for defeating capitalism and building socialism – a world of fraternity where exploitation no longer exists.
The Party we are founding today will also take its place as a detachment of the international communist movement and will participate fully in the immense and glorious task of struggling for the liberation of mankind from all forms of oppression and exploitation.
* * *
Canada, like all the other capitalist countries, has been in the grips of a serious economic crisis for several years. With this crisis, the most serious since the Great Depression of the 1930s, all the major contradictions in Canada are growing sharper.
The working class and the masses of the people, who are the hardest hit by the crisis, are struggling hard to defend their economic interests and their democratic rights. The oppressed nationalities are resisting increased oppression. The Canadian people are continuing their fight to safeguard the country’s independence against growing American penetration. Within the bourgeoisie, different fractions are locked in a relentless struggle. There are sharp conflicts between the Canadian monopoly bourgeoisie and the Quebec nationalist bourgeoisie, and between various groups of monopolists, which threaten to break up the country.
Thus, added to the economic crisis is a serious political crisis, and the upcoming Quebec referendum is highlighting this crisis even more.
The working class can’t be indifferent to these contradictions. It must set out its own orientation, according to its class interests, in order to come through these trials stronger than before. It is the task of our Party to present, analyze and map out the path which the working masses must follow in the complex class battles that await us in the future.
The election of the Clark government
Against this background of a long drawn-out economic crisis and the developing political crisis, important political changes have taken place in Canada with the victory of the Conservative Party in the last federal elections. The anger of the masses against the Liberal government’s crisis policies was expressed in a vote for the Conservatives and, to a lesser degree, for the social democratic New Democratic Party. The new government is a minority government, with practically no support in Quebec (just 2 Quebec MPs), and the referendum is right around the corner. The Conservative Party’s well-known chauvinism and its hostility to Quebecois’ national rights have made it a marginal political force in Quebec. It is putting forward an all-out pro-US policy, rejecting the weak and inconsistent attempts of the former Liberal government to decrease Canada’s economic dependence on the US. Its economic policy is even more anti-people than the Liberal Party’s.
This minority government opens the way to a period of increased political instability in Canada. With the threat of parliamentary defeat constantly hanging over its head, government action to face up to economic and political problems in Canada could be paralyzed. The Canadian bourgeoisie is divided on the eve of important developments.
The Canadian monopoly bourgeoisie has on the whole opted for closer ties with the US for several years now. But the Clark government represents the most pro-US sectors of the Canadian bourgeoisie, who are opting for an even faster and deeper rapprochement with the US. Among the interests which support the Conservatives are monopolies involved in the exploitation of natural resources in the West, especially oil. (They represent a rising force in the Canadian bourgeoisie). There are also some eastern manufacturing industry monopolies, like Argus, Stelco, Alcan., etc. The points which unite these groups are: closer ties with the US to ensure a market for their production; restrictions on state spending, which mean more attacks on the masses of the people; a bigger margin of manoeuvre for private industry by dismantling several crown corporations and reducing direct intervention by the state in the economy; and greater decentralization of state powers to the provinces. But already some tensions are showing in this alliance between the oil monopolies, who wish to raise the price of oil, and the interests based in eastern industries, who are demanding cheap energy.
The proletariat and the people are the ones who would suffer the most from the Conservatives’ furiously pro-US policies. They would be hit harder by a loss of jobs, a decline in industry, and economic stagnation.
In this political context, we must double our efforts to develop a movement of opposition to American imperialism by the Canadian people. The working class is the only class which can take up the struggle to defend Canada’s independence in a consistent way, and brake American penetration.
The political crisis
The most important political confrontation in the coming years will take place in Quebec. The federalist forces, representing the Canadian monopoly bourgeoisie, and the Parti Quebecois, representing the Quebec nationalist bourgeoisie, are all preparing for this battle.
The federalist forces are organizing their campaign in Quebec , basing it on economic blackmail, threatening a separate Quebec with an even greater exodus of companies and chronic economic instability. In English Canada, the federalist forces are trying to push anti-Quebecois chauvinism.
The PQ is counting on nationalism on one hand and on the refinements of its independence by stages strategy (a second referendum on unilateral independence if English Canada refuses to accept association in the first referendum) to win more votes.
The PQ has opted for a long and gradual accession to independence, carried out in stages, in order to make the fewest waves possible. The elements of the Quebec bourgeoisie that the PQ represents need state power most of all, even if at first it is the severely limited power of a provincial government. After three years in power, the PQ has already consolidated this bourgeoisie by developing state corporations and using state financial resources like the Caisses de Depot to finance and support many Quebec enterprises. The objective of the PQ, above and beyond the referendum, is to stay in power in the next provincial elections.
Meanwhile, the PQ is having a hard time maintaining its famous “bias in favour of workers” image. Despite some of its speeches and reformist measures, the PQ has been exposed in the eyes of many workers by its attitude towards the public sector workers, its Bill 45, its bill on occupational health and safety, and anti-worker actions. Despite the more or less critical support given it by the leadership of the Quebec unions, many union militants and workers have seen through its mask. There are rank-and-file movements developing which demand firmer attitudes towards the PQ. Our organization’s work in the union movement has made an appreciable contribution to these positive developments.
In the debate over the Quebec national question, we must reject both chauvinist federalism and narrow nationalism. Our Party must build the unity of the Canadian proletariat on the basis of the recognition of the right to self-determination of the Quebec nation and support for its struggle against national oppression.
Even though it is divided on several questions, the bourgeoisie is united when it comes to exploiting the working class and the people. Thus all the bourgeois parties in Canada, from the NDP to the PQ, the Liberals to the Conservatives, and all the provincial or federal governments apply or support the same policy of attacking the masses of the people to make them bear the burden of the crisis. Through these numerous attacks – the wage freeze, cutbacks in social services, job cuts, and repressive laws against the unions – Canadian capitalists have been able to check wage hikes and make record profits in the last two years. The strike movement, which went into a temporary decline in 1977, picked up again in 1978 and 1979, and shook up the bosses’ policy with militant struggles, like those at the Post Office, Bell Canada, and Alcan. Wages began to rise again around the middle of 1978. Though they are going up (8.2%), they are still below the rate of inflation (9.1%) and are far below the profit rate (55%).
This fightback by Canadian workers has been in direct opposition to the top union brass, especially in the Canadian Labour Congress. A militant movement opposing the leadership’s betrayal has developed and can be seen in many struggles (postal workers, Inco, Air Canada). Even though illusions about the NDP are still present in the union movement, exhortations to ignore workers’ struggles and instead give electoral support to this reformist party didn’t really catch on. The fightback movement has won some victories. But the attacks by capital are coming from all sides. Our party pledges to continue and increase its efforts to struggle against the effects of the economic crisis and give impetus to the fightback movement. We must develop the present current of opposition in the unions and build it into a class-union current.
In this period of crisis, the bourgeoisie is increasing its chauvinist and racist attacks against the oppressed nationalities in Canada. But resistance is being organized and struggles are developing. Native peoples, Acadians, Franco-Ontarians, Black Canadians and other peoples are fighting back more and more strongly. Our party wholeheartedly supports these struggles against national oppression and pledges to develop support for them among the Canadian working class and people.
Immigrants, especially from the third world, are also affected by the increase in violent and racist attacks by the bourgeoisie. Our Party has waged and will continue to wage struggles to defend immigrants’ democratic rights.
Canada is on the eve of important political events and class battles. In these battles our Party, armed with its program, will go through its trial by fire.
In the past few years there have been important developments on the international scene, which has become increasingly troubled and strained. The rivalry between the superpowers is sharpening, and the shadow of war is hovering over the planet. New and significant developments have occurred in the peoples’ struggles, especially those in the third world, against imperialism and the superpowers. While the factors for revolution in the world are making progress, the factors for war are developing considerably.
The military and political rivalry between the superpowers is on the rise, despite the smokescreen of detente and the pretexts of SALT II. The superpowers, especially the USSR, are frantically arming themselves. The USSR has already left its rival behind in terms of conventional military forces and is in the process of doing the same in nuclear weapons.
In recent months, Soviet social-imperialism has accelerated its offensive around the world. It supported and encouraged its regional agent, Vietnam, in its occupation of Laos and its aggression in Democratic Kampuchea in order to set up a so-called Indochinese Federation. Vietnam has thus revealed to the world that it has degenerated into a revisionist country under the thumb of the USSR. The Soviet Union is still imposing its domination on the peoples of Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Angola, etc. through the use of its Cuban mercenaries. In Asia, it has forced Afghanistan into submission and is trying to profit from the instability in Iran to build its influence there. The USSR has become the number one source of tension on the international scene and the principal source of war.Meanwhile, the United States is continuing its inexorable decline. The US lost the strategic bases of Iran in Asia and Nicaragua in Central America. Their latest “success”, the Camp David accords between Israel and Egypt, turned against them when the Arab countries unanimously criticized this betrayal. Exposed to the opposition of the peoples of the world, and prey to contradictions within its ruling class, American imperialism is failing fast. The tendency towards appeasement which dominates the American bourgeoisie is accelerating its decline, as well as the danger of war.
The struggles of peoples and countries intensify
The struggles of the world’s peoples have developed significantly with the victories of the Iranian revolution and the FSLN in Nicaragua. These two victories shake U.S. imperialism considerably while strengthening the third world.
Other struggles are raging around the world. In the forefront is the heroic war of resistance of the Kampuchean people. Other peoples’ wars are developing against social-imperialism and its lackies, as in Laos, Afghanistan and Eritrea. In Southern Africa, the struggle of the people of Zimbabwe for liberation from white racism has scaled new heights, compelling the racists to set up a “black” puppet government. All over the world, peoples’ struggles are being unleashed against their oppressors.
The countries of the third world have reaffirmed their unity in the fight against imperialism and hegemonism. The OPEC countries have raised the price of oil to compensate for the losses suffered from inflation and unequal exchange with the industrialized countries. The Arab countries have tightened their ranks against American imperialism’s manoeuvres in the Middle East with the Camp David accords, and strengthened their support for the Palestinian people’s struggle for liberation. The non-aligned countries, the vast majority of whom belong to the third world, oppose the USSR and its allies’ attempts to sabotage and split their movement.
In the advanced capitalist countries, the bourgeoisies’ crisis policies are meeting with fierce resistance from the workers and working people. In Germany, France, Italy and England, major strikes are shaking the country.
The three worlds theory, developed by Chairman Mao, is a strategic concept, a guide for the struggle of the proletariat on the world level. The countries and people of the world must be united into a vast anti-hegemonic front against the two superpowers. Such a front can put off the outbreak of war and favour the peoples’ struggles. The main blow must be struck against social-imperialism, the main source of war in the world today.
Unshakeable support for socialism
Our Party firmly supports the principles of proletarian internationalism. We support the socialist countries and the Marxist-Leninist parties and organizations around the world. People’s China, guided by the teachings of Chairman Mao Zedong, is continuing the socialist revolution and carrying out its modernization. It is in the front lines of the struggle against the two superpowers and is building the anti-hegemonic united front. It is our duty to defend People’s China against all reactionary attacks.
Internationally the modern revisionists, led by Moscow, are launching furious attacks against Marxism-Leninism. Using its Cuban and Vietnamese agents, the USSR is orchestrating venomous attacks against the authentic communist movement and People’s China. The objective of this offensive is to sow confusion and division in the liberation movements in the third world and the revolutionary movements around the world, in an attempt to enslave them to Moscow. This revisionist ideological offensive serves social-imperialism’s military offensive. Our Party pledges to double its efforts in the struggle against revisionism to defend the Marxist-Leninist revolutionary road and Mao Zedong Thought.
We reaffirm our unshakeable support for Mao Zedong Thought and for the numerous contributions made by this exemplary revolutionary. The enthusiasm of the world’s peoples for socialism has been multiplied tenfold by the success of the Chinese revolution under his leadership; especially by the theory and practice of continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat, and by the historic struggle he launched against Soviet revisionism. Our Party will never abandon Mao Zedong Thought, an invincible weapon for the revolution.
We struggle for unity in the international communist movement on the basis of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought. The splittist and revisionist trend led by the Party of Labour of Albania has failed miserably. The majority of Marxist-Leninist parties remain faithful to the revolutionary line, whereas a small minority of splitters are embroiled in their own internal squabbles. The very great majority of Marxist-Leninist parties continue to defend Mao Zedong, the greatest Marxist-Leninist of our time, and his immortal work. Our relations with authentic Marxist-Leninist organizations and parties have been strengthened over the past few years.
As Canadian revolutionaries, we support the struggle of people against Canadian imperialism and denounce its reactionary actions around the world. The peoples of the world are struggling to put an end to imperialism, and our Party supports them wholeheartedly.
At a time when we are taking the great step forward of creating our party, it is instructive to take a look at the accomplishments of the last few years.
Four years ago, on the eve of the League’s creation, what was the situation in the Marxist-Leninist movement?
At the time the Marxist-Leninist movement was in a primitive stage of development. There were a good twenty groups, spread across the country in the major cities, who claimed to be Marxist-Leninist. Some in fact were, while others were totally opportunist. Most of them had only the rudiments of a political line and a weak understanding of theory. There were all kinds of erroneous conceptions within the movement. Some groups refused to do any political education among the masses using the excuse that workers’ struggles had to be developed before workers could be cautiously introduced to political concepts. Others claimed that no work could be undertaken among the masses until a clear political line was developed. Others rejected unions as being out-dated forms of working class organization, and wanted to create brand new, “pure” organizations. There was total confusion on the strategy of the revolution in Canada, on the nature of our main enemy. It goes without saying that the fusion of this movement, characterized by small local circles, with the labour movement had hardly advanced at all.
Out of this dispersion and primitive level of development surfaced three Montreal ML groups, which had undertaken serious theoretical study and directed their work towards the working class. They began discussions which led to unity between them and their complete fusion to create the League. Even these groups suffered from the movement’s primitive stage of development. Between them, they were only present in about ten workplaces. They didn’t have a newspaper, and put out very few leaflets. They were incapable of organizing political campaigns, or large-scale agitation, propaganda or the rallying of workers.
Given these conditions, it is no surprise that Marxism-Leninism was practically unknown to the working class.
Compare this situation with the picture today. From the outset, our Party, with a weekly newspaper circulation of more than 12,000, will be present in every region of the country. Over 4,000 people attend our meetings across the country. We have hundreds of worker comrades and sympathizers in various workplaces across the country. We represent an active and growing current in the labour movement, active in all major struggles, building opposition to the bureaucrats at many union conventions, and respected and supported by many activists and rank-and-file workers. Furthermore, Marxist-Leninists are now united in one organization with a developed political line and program.
These radical changes have taken place in the short period of four years. This transformation, without a doubt a qualitative step forward, is the result of the CCL(ML)’s work.
The League’s plan
What was the League’s plan for transforming the situation and creating the party?
First of all, we had to form a Marxist-Leninist organization that would act as a leading centre to unify the movement and establish the basis within the working class necessary for the party’s creation. Today, this position seems obvious, but at the time it was far from being accepted. In Struggle, a Marxist-Leninist group at the time, but already riddled with opportunism, was opposed.
I.S. favoured taking a long period of time to group together all the circles claiming to be Marxist-Leninist (whether they were or not mattered little to I.S.) around a common central organ – I.S.’s. There were other groups that agreed with I.S. But the groups that were to found the League pushed these objections aside. History has shown they were right.
Secondly, the plan called for the fulfilment of three conditions to create the party. The three conditions were:
a) The development of a correct political line, which would be the basis of a political program including the elements of the strategy and tactics of the revolution in Canada.
b) The greatest ideological and organizational unity possible of Marxist-Leninists in Canada.
c) Recruiting a certain number of class-conscious workers and forming factory cells in the country’s major industrial centres.
Why these conditions?
The experience of the international communist movement especially that of the Bolshevik party under Lenin and Stalin, showed us that the fundamental criterion for creating the party is the correctness of its political and ideological line. In other words, it must have drawn clear lines of demarcation between itself and all opportunist and revisionist currents. This time-tested principle helped us to formulate our first condition.
We also took into consideration the concrete conditions of our own country, where many groups and organizations claimed to be Marxist-Leninist. We thus insisted not only on the importance of the ideological and political line but also on its concrete application in a program, which would distinguish us from all opportunist tendencies.
The analysis of the concrete conditions of our country enabled us to outline the two other conditions.
1) We wanted the greatest agreement possible among genuine Marxist-Leninists on the question of and in order to create a single party. Since the movement in Canada was so scattered at the time, this condition was important. But from the beginning we used a precise formulation, “the greatest unity possible,” and not “the unity of all Marxist-Leninists,” which would have enabled one group to block the creation of the party if for one reason or another it did not want to unite with the others.
2) We wanted to make sure the Party had a basis in the working class and had progressed in its proletarianization before it was formed, to prove its legitimacy from the outset (contrary to counter-revolutionary sects totally cut off from the masses like the Canadian Party of Labour and the PCCML, which simply proclaimed themselves the party.) Furthermore, Canadian conditions made it important for the party to have roots throughout the country and not only in one region or nationality.
The three stages in the party’s development
By studying the experience of Lenin and Stalin we understood that party-building goes through several stages: the first, when the party is weak and small and when its objective is to rally the vanguard of the working class; the second, when the party becomes a party of the masses and leads the struggle of the working class and the rest of the working people; the third, when the party takes power.
The creation of the party is part of the first stage of party-building. Once it is created, the new party must strive to develop and grow. It continues to rally the vanguard of the working class.
When we formulated the conditions for the creation of the party, we were careful to avoid giving the impression that the party, right from its creation, had to include the entire vanguard or have the recognized leadership of the working class. We formulated our conditions on the basis of a scientific approach to building the proletarian party.
This approach to party-building was a guide for the League’s work for four years. The major task of both League congresses was to evaluate the progress in the accomplishment of these conditions and to establish ways of moving forward.
Today we are holding this Congress, confident that we have fulfilled all the conditions for the creation of the new party.
The development of the political line
From its creation, our organization had a developed political line on all the crucial questions of the revolution. While there existed a lot of confusion in the Marxist-Leninist movement concerning the principal contradiction, and especially concerning the importance of the fight against US imperialism compared to our other revolutionary tasks, the League put forward a clear orientation on both these questions. As a result of the relentless ideological struggle waged by our organization, a correct analysis of the principal contradiction (proletariat versus bourgeoisie) was recognized by the movement.
There was also a lot of confusion on the analysis of social imperialism in the international arena. The League fought intensely to bring the movement to recognize Mao Zedong’s strategic concept of the theory of three worlds. These intense ideological struggles drew a distinction between genuine Marxist-Leninists and opportunists in the movement and united the honest elements around our organization. In the following years, we developed our analysis of the Quebec national question, the analysis of classes in Canada, the strategy of the Canadian revolution and the analysis of the other national questions. The result was the Draft Party Program.
The program clearly distinguishes us from the modern revisionists of the Communist Party of Canada, the CPCML counter-revolutionaries, and all other opportunists.
The firm ideological battles waged by our organization cleared the way for the creation of a Marxist-Leninist party with firm ideological and political foundations.
The political line of a Marxist-Leninist party is not a static or immovable thing. On the contrary, it is in constant development according to the evolution of the ever-changing conditions, both national and international, of the class struggle.
That is why our Party will continue to study and discuss various important questions and develop and enrich the Party’s political positions.
a) The Quebec national question. We are developing our analysis of the constitutional question and the different options open to us concerning the referendum. We are also studying the type of state to be established in a socialist Canada in regard to the oppressed nationalities. We are continuing to study the other national questions in Canada.
b) The penetration of US imperialism. We are continuing to study the different forms of US penetration – economic, political, cultural and military. We are also working to extend our program of demands concerning this fierce enemy of the Canadian people.
c) The question of the world war. We are studying the question to make our program more precise and to clarify our tasks in Canada in the eventuality of war.
The unity of Marxist-Leninists
The League itself resulted from the fusion of three Marxist-Leninist groups, MREQ, CMO and COR. In the League’s first two years of existence, important successes were scored by rallying Workers’ Unity of Toronto, the Regina Marxist-Leninist Collective and the Abitibi-Temiscamingue Marxist-Leninist Group.
We successfully fought to dissolve several opportunist groups and rally the most honest elements of these groups through a process of ideological re-education.
These successes were the result of a vigorous struggle against the incorrect conceptions of In Struggle, which wanted to build opportunist unity on an unprincipled basis with various groups that claimed to be Marxist-Leninist.
All of I.S.’s attempts to isolate us met with failure.
Our line on the unity of Marxist-Leninists, which insisted on drawing lines of demarcation with opportunism and building unity on a clear political and ideological basis, proved to be right.
Today, we are the only organization in the country basing itself on Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought, and the great majority of authentic Marxist-Leninists have joined our ranks. As a result of our work the primitive period of scattered local circles is over and done with.
Because of present conditions, the fight for the unity of Marxist-Leninists now has a different character. It’s aim is to rally individuals who are sympathetic to Marxism-Leninism but who, for one reason or another, are not organized. The fight for unity also takes the form of polemics and ideological struggle to unmask and weaken the different opportunist groups and lines and win over the sincere elements under their influence.
We must continue the ideological struggle against In Struggle, especially in Quebec where it has maintained some influence among intellectuals and certain elements of the petty-bourgeoisie. The group’s influence in the labour movement is next to nil.
As our work develops in English Canada, it is becoming increasingly important to combat the revisionist CPC. This party still has influence over certain unions and some militant workers. Furthermore, its ideological influence extends to several organizations and areas, such as immigrants, women, students, etc. The CPC is trying to take advantage of the international offensive of revisionism and is also using Cuba and Vietnam to increase its influence in Canada. We must heighten our vigilance ten-fold and resolutely fight against the CPC and the revisionism that it spreads.
Throughout the first years of the organization, we analyzed that the bulk of our energies must be put into rallying workers and expanding across the country.
Four years of hard work have enabled us to fulfill this condition. Not only has the total number of comrades in the organization grown phenomenally, but the working class composition of our ranks has also greatly increased. The proportion of workers in the League has gone up by four times since its creation. Our organization receives growing support and sympathy from people in unions and mass organizations. There is no doubt that our organization is on the road to proletarianization.
Our capacity to rally class-conscious workers to Marxism-Leninism is obvious to anyone who knows our organization and its work.
We have made noteworthy progress in communist agitation and propaganda, the League’s principal activity. The content of our agitation and our ability to politically analyze the Canadian situation have much improved. We have developed and improved the quality of our press, and have produced new means of education, including films, slide shows, etc. Our central organ, The Forge, has become a weekly, following a good preparation campaign.
Our propaganda has improved with the regular publication of our theoretical journal, October, and several brochures and pamphlets.
Organizationally, the League has evolved from composite workplace cells, in several workplaces, to single workplace cells. This development is a result of the growing number of workers rallying to the organization. Our workplace cells now fulfill their role as leading organs of revolutionary work in the workplace.
Since the Second Congress it is our rallying of workers from the industrial proletariat that has especially increased. Factory cells have been set up in the last few years, and they now make up the majority of the cells in Montreal and a growing number of cells in the rest of the country.
In four years, our organization has spread across the country. When the League was created, we were only present in Montreal, but now we have districts made up of many cells, workplace cells as well as territorial ones, in every major economic region of the country: British Columbia, the Prairies, Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes.
Our comrades and sympathizers are active in BC’s pulp and paper mills, in the railway centres of Winnipeg, Toronto and Montreal, in the mines of Manitoba and in Sudbury, in Hamilton’s and Montreal’s steel mills, in the auto industry in the Toronto area and among fishermen in the Maritimes. We can proudly say that we are active in all the important industrial centres of the country.
Of course our influence varies from one place to another. In Quebec, in the space of a few short years, we have grown extremely fast into an organized current in the labour movement, leading workers’ struggles, mass organizations and unions. We organized support campaigns around the battles at Robin Hood and Commonwealth Plywood. This had strong effects in the unions. At union conventions, comrades often lead the opposition and resistance to reformist leaders. This development has been reflected in the media’s coverage of our statements and activities.
This rapid development was facilitated by several historical factors: a) the militant fighting tradition of the labour movement and Quebecois youth against class exploitation and national oppression; b) the numeric force of the new Marxist-Leninist movement in Quebec; c) the absence of any other “left” alternative.
In English Canada things are different: a) the labour and youth movements have not had the same militant experience over the last ten years; b) there exists a reformist party, the NDP, which is tightly linked to the unions and has strong influence on workers. Furthermore, the revisionist party is more influential there than in Quebec, where it is all but absent; c) the Marxist-Leninist movement is weaker in terms of size than in Quebec, and we began working in English Canada at a later date. We must take these factors into consideration in evaluating the situation. Because of these specific conditions it is not surprising that our development in English Canada has been slower than in Quebec.
To insist that the movement be equally developed in every region of the country as a condition for creating the party would be a totally idealistic and undialectical approach to reality. The fact of the matter is, historically Marxist-Leninist parties have experienced uneven development in different regions or nationalities in a given country.
In our country at the present time, Quebec is the place where the communist movement is strongest. Understanding the reasons for the unequal development is not, however, an excuse for resigning ourselves to it, as if it were inevitable. On the contrary, our Party must set out to eliminate this imbalance in the medium term and reach a level of equal development among Canada’s regions and nationalities.
We based ourselves on these factors and specific conditions to establish our objectives for English Canada. From the League’s creation, knowing it was unrealistic to attain the same development in English Canada as in Quebec, we set out to anchor the organization in the big industrial centres of the country and to begin rallying English Canadian workers to the organization. This would guarantee that right from its creation the Party would have a multinational composition and working-class members from the two largest nations.
Today we can say we have accomplished this task. The efforts, attention and energies directed to the work in English Canada since the Second Congress have resulted in remarkable progress in a short period of time and enabled us to attain all our objectives.
Our participation in workers and people’s struggles is growing and in some regions we have shown a good capacity to influence and lead the masses. In Toronto we are playing a role in the rail unions. In Saskatchewan, we play an important role in the Regina Labour Council and in the government employees union. At the present time, we are active in all the important workers’ struggles in these regions and militant workers know the League.
These developments have proven our capacity to build the Party among workers in English Canada. This progress over the last year promises an even brighter future.
We therefore consider that we have completely fulfilled the third condition for creating the party.
All the conditions for building the party which we set down four years ago have been fulfilled. It is necessary and correct to take the step of founding the proletarian party.
Of course some people will raise objections. Firstly, they will say, you don’t have the working masses behind you, why do you say you are the working class’s party? We will answer that Marxist-Leninist parties are usually small and weak when they are founded. There aren’t any examples of communist revolutionary parties that were mass parties right from the start. Communist parties go through several stages of development. In the first stage, they set out to rally the vanguard of the working class, in the second, having won over the vanguard, they win the support of the masses of the people.
Our Party will also develop by stages. We have already proven our capacity to rally workers, to lead their struggles and to develop an influence in unions and mass organizations. A growing number of workers are taking up Marxism-Leninism and supporting communists. The existence of a Marxist-Leninist party with an ability to participate in all forms of political struggle in the country will accelerate our development even further.
Some will object that our political line is not developed enough, for example, that we don’t have a detailed analysis of the Canadian economy. Our reply is, our political line is sufficiently developed to lead our revolutionary work in various areas, such as in the labour movement, on the national question, in anti-imperialist work, work with youth and students, and among different strata of the people, etc. We will show them that our analysis of the economy and of classes in Canada has enabled us to prove that the principal contradiction is between the working class and the bourgeoisie of our country and to discredit all the non-scientific theories saying anything different. Our line is more developed than that of any other so-called socialist organization in the country. Of course we intend to develop our line and program further, but to say that they are not sufficient to create the Party doesn’t hold water.
Lastly, some will say that a truly revolutionary party in Canada must include the entire left, something our Party does not do. Our reply is that we want to create a unified and disciplined revolutionary party, which calls for a membership that is united around a common ideology and political orientation. We don’t want a debating club where interminable discussions of completely contradictory positions would paralyze the Party’s activity. That is why we have tried to unite the greatest number of revolutionaries possible around us, but always on the basis of common political principles, at the same time, of course, encouraging discussion and internal democracy. This is how an authentic revolutionary left is constituted. Because within what is known as the “left” in Canada, exist various contradictory, muddled, or anti-revolutionary points of view. To unite all these points of view within one party would not help the development of the revolutionary struggle in the least.
None of these objections are valid. The League had to confront similar objections when it was founded, and it went on to reach all its objectives despite them.
Among those who put forward these ideas, some are sincere and honestly want to understand our political reasoning. It is up to us to explain our positions to them. Others are less honest, and bring up criticisms to justify their own inaction. They are sitting back in their ivory towers waiting for the perfect conditions for creating a revolutionary force. If we listen to these criticisms, we will sit back forever, putting off all major developments or new steps forward in our revolutionary struggle.
Our Party will not allow these criticisms to block or divert us from our path. We will prove in practice that the creation of the party is necessary and correct and is a step that will advance the fight of the working class!
After four long years of struggle, we are on the eve of founding the Party. What are the tasks facing this young Party? What orientation will it follow in the battles and trials it will face?
Our Party is young; it is still in the first stage of its development. Therefore, the Party must continue to rally advanced workers to its ranks, to assemble and form the vanguard of the working class, capable of leading the masses and their struggles. Our most important activity will still be agitation and propaganda, political education on burning political issues and education in class struggle to train a growing number of advanced workers.
Furthermore, a central concern of the Party at this stage is its own construction, its strengthening. The Party must be founded on a solid political, ideological and organizational basis if it is to resist the blows of the bourgeoisie and reaction. During this period, the Party is vulnerable to both external and internal threats. The very existence of the Party could be compromised if this aspect of the work is neglected during the first stage, because now is the time that the conditions are laid for the full development of the Party’s activities in the decades to come.
While it takes up these important tasks during the first stage of its development, the Party cannot, nor should it, lose interest in major current political events concerning the broad masses of the working class and the people, or immediate struggles.
Campaigns on current political events are a fundamental way to popularize the Party’s line and slogans. These campaigns put the Party on the political scene, enabling it not only to step up its ability to recruit, but also to deepen its roots among the masses. It is important to grasp that even though the Party’s main efforts are directed towards advanced workers, it addresses itself to all strata of the working class. Because in order for it to grow stronger, increase its size and resist all attacks, the Party must link the working class vanguard to the whole class. The Party draws its strength and future recruits from these links.
Moreover, though its priority is the proletariat, the Party must initiate work with the oppressed nationalities and the working people. They are the strategic allies of the Canadian revolution. Although we are not in a position to lead the struggles of these allies or establish solid alliances between them and the working class (this can be achieved by the party in its second stage of development, when it is able to lead the working class and set up the revolutionary united front against the bourgeoisie), it is important to start this work right now.
There is a dialectical relationship between the different stages of the Party’s development. During the first stage, while most of its attention and energy is focused on the tasks specific to this stage, the Party gradually takes up certain aspects of the tasks of the second stage. This is how the Party develops, strengthens itself, and prepares the conditions for moving on to a higher stage of development.
Given these clarifications on the Party’s activities, what objective can we set for the first years of its development? We think that it is correct to set as our objective to build the Party and popularize it in the working class.
These are the political and organizational tasks we must accomplish to attain our objective:
a) Build the Party:
We have taken measures to improve and accelerate the recruitment of workers, while still ensuring that they are well prepared ideologically and politically. These measures must be applied with still more determination.
While continuing to develop our strength in Quebec, the Party must be strengthened in English Canada’s major industrial centres and develop more influence in the workers’ movement in these regions.
The Party must further develop its means of agitation and propaganda and make particular use of central and regional political campaigns to give more public impact to its slogans. The Party must make itself known among the population and the working masses as the only authentic party of the working class.
On the internal level, the Party must consolidate its achievements. It must ensure a firm and continuous ideological training for its members. The struggle against revisionism and to learn Marxism-Leninism is one of the essential conditions for keeping the Party on the revolutionary road.
We must also continue the struggle against amateurish methods of work. We must form a solid core of cadres and consolidate our internal structures on all levels. This proletarian Bolshevik functioning will guarantee the solidity of our Party.
b) Struggle against the bourgeoisie’s offensive and build the workers’ fightback!
The spontaneous mass movement is in constant development. The crisis, instead of diminishing, is growing worse, after temporary periods of lull. Our general tactic of taking advantage of the crisis in our country to strengthen the revolutionary movement is still correct. We must continue to put out tactical slogans according to the analysis we make of the concrete situation, and show the militant and revolutionary nature of our Party.
Reformist parties like the NDP, or reformist and nationalist parties like the PQ, try to take advantage of workers’ struggles against the crisis to slip into power. But they are being exposed by their opposition to mass struggles and to the tactic of class-against-class struggle. This enables us to demystify these forces among the masses and strengthen our Party’s credibility as the most loyal and true defender of the masses.
One of the most important places for us to develop the struggle against the bourgeois reformist forces, expose their agents, and increase the influence of Marxist-Leninists and the current of struggle for class unions, is in the labour movement.
c) Fight the national oppression of the Quebecois people and unite the multinational working class against the Canadian bourgeoisie:
With the referendum approaching in Quebec, the Quebec national question will assume primary importance among political struggles in Canada. Our Party must defend Quebecois national rights, principally the right to self-determination. We want to unite the Canadian multinational proletariat on the basis of respect for Quebecois democratic rights, and the struggle against all forms of national oppression.
In English Canada, our Party must fight against the chauvinist campaigns the bourgeoisie will launch and develop support for the just struggles of the Quebecois among the working masses.
In Quebec, our Party will struggle against narrow nationalism and against the grip that the nationalist bourgeoisie, through the PQ, has on the struggle against national oppression. Our Party will defend the proletarian point of view on the national question and will take advantage of the growing disillusionment of workers with the PQ to win them over to our positions.
The national minorities across Canada are fighting back against increased oppression by the bourgeoisie. Our Party will wage the struggle for the democratic rights of the oppressed nationalities and will unite their struggles to the struggle of the working class, to form a powerful revolutionary movement against the bourgeoisie.
d) Defend Canada’s independence against American imperialism:
The Clark government represents the most pro-US groups within the Canadian bourgeoisie. It is developing a policy of greater submission to American interests and economic integration with the United States. This policy is heightening the US’s already considerable economic, political and military hold over our country. It is our Party’s duty to take up the struggle to defend Canada’s independence against American imperialism.
e) Struggle against the hegemonism of the superpowers and the danger of world war:
Our Party must build the Canadian people’s opposition to all the superpowers’ intrigues on the international scene. We must support the struggles of the peoples and countries which are opposing the superpowers, and thus strengthen the world united front against hegemonism. In doing this work, and constant education of the people on the danger of war and the illusions of detente, we will be able to increase the people’s vigilance against these vultures and their aggressive designs, especially against the USSR, the most dangerous on the world level.
An important aspect of this task is our support for peoples struggling for their liberation. It is also our internationalist duty. Every people that liberates itself strikes another blow against the world imperialist system and the superpowers which dominate it. We fully support every struggle led by the peoples of the world against Canadian imperialism. Its defeat will be our victory as well as theirs.
Support for and defence of socialist countries like China, the most consistent fighters against hegemonism, is one of our important duties.
The founding of the Party is a qualitative step forward in our struggle for socialism. Our movement has attained a certain political maturity and has developed solid roots in the masses. A growing number of workers have confidence in it, support its slogans, and participate in political and economic battles at its side. The founding of the Party should give us the opportunity to increase our activities even more, to root ourselves deeper in the masses, and play a growing role in political events. We must establish the Party as the political alternative of the working class and rally more workers to its ranks.
The great political struggles which are approaching in Canada – the referendum in Quebec, the struggles of the oppressed national minorities, the aggravation of the economic crisis, more intense struggles within the bourgeoisie – all make the creation of the Party more pressing. The working class must express its interests in these battles; it needs a Party capable of mapping out the strategy and tactics for its struggles, of guiding it in its class battles. It is up to us to play this historic role. With our program, our tactical and strategic slogans, our growing experience and the influence we are developing, we are well equipped to accept this task. The working masses feel the need for a Party, it is up to us to meet this need!
 MREQ (Mouvement revolutionnaire des etudiants du Quebec); CMO (Cellule militante ouvriere); COR (Cellule ouvriere revolutionnaire).