The Communist Party of Canada started in Guelph in 1921 in a barn off Metcalfe Street. That was the outskirts of town back in the 20s, but nearly 100 years later, it was the CUPE Hall just off the University of Guelph campus that hosted the current Communist Party leader Elizabeth Rowley. It just took her a little bit of extra time for to get there…
“One of the things I want to talk about is transportation policy because I left Toronto at quarter past three,” Rowley said when she arrived nearly 45 minutes late at 6:15 pm.
Rowley is running in the Toronto riding of Davenport, but like any party leader, she’s got to make the rounds and visit the other candidates, like Guelph’s Juanita Burnett. Burnett is one of 31 Communist candidates running across Canada, and the only one of two candidates in Ontario running outside of either Toronto or Ottawa.
The message of the Communist Party is simple, according to Rowley, “The problem is capitalism, and the solution is socialism,” she said. “We also know that socialism is not on the agenda in this election.”
Rowley was very clear about the stakes from the Communist Party point of view. “It’s looking more like we might get a minority government on October 21, a Tory government we think is the greatest danger because we think they’re more reactionary,” Rowley said. “Mostly the Liberals and Tories are big business parties that doesn’t speak for labour and care about them, other than their votes.”
“Working people have had to fight for everything they’ve got, and nothing’s changed in that regard either,” Rowley added.
So what is the Communist Party fighting for? Rowley brought the new printed version of the Communist Party platform that listed several different priorities across a myriad of issues.
For instance, the Communists say that they will adopt a full-employment policy and eliminate the gig economy. They will raise the minimum wage to $20 per hour, and enact universal pay and employment equity. They will enact Mixed Member Proportional representation, double the corporate tax rate and put in place new policies to eliminate racism, sexism, homophobia, transpohobia and Islamophobia.
The full Communist platform can be read here.
Rowley also addressed the major news item of the day, the black and brown face controversy of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “What Trudeau did is racist, no question about that, it’s just that every day kind of racism, and it’s painful, and hurtful, and a government in Canada should not do these things,” she said, adding that the apologies were not believable.
“If you look at what they’ve done to Indigenous people, racialized people, and immigrants, it kind of fits, people with those kinds of ideas do those kinds of [racist] things,” she added.
Still, the message for the Communist Party is the same for all the major parties: Get out the vote!
“We all know that the problems we’re facing today, most of them, will still be there on October 22, I’d say all of them and maybe even more depending on who wins,” Rowley said. “So you’ve got to get people out on the street, you’ve got to get them out to vote.”
You can watch Rowley’s comments in their entirety below.