Six times. Juanita Burnett has run for office six times. ” Something I’ve learned as an activist is that somebody has to do the things, and if you stick around, you’re often the one,” Burnett said in her candidate interview on last week’s Open Sources Guelph. The Communist Party candidate believes sixth time’s the charm, and that people are looking for real left-wing change as an antidote to four years living under Doug Ford.
“It’s about an alternative to big business and corporations, but it’s also about trying to look at how people would rather live their lives,” Burnett said about the Communist Party ethos. “I think people enjoy working, but they don’t want to be spending all their time working and not being able to enjoy their time off.”
Burnett points out that Communist ideas are not as outlandish as you might think. They were once the only party pushing for a $15 minimum wage, and then they went to $20 last election, which is the same number the NDP have in their 2022 election platform. (The Communists are now pushing for $23 per hour.) The Communists also have a pledge to create an 32-hour work week, which is also something that’s in the Liberal platform, albeit as a pilot project.
“If people want to take the time and effort to look at the Communist Party platform, I think there’s a lot of stuff people might be surprised that they agree with,” Burnett added. “Perhaps not everything, but certainly some things like mandatory sick days, and mandatory vacation days, or our four work week. It’s about paying people what they’re worth and loosening some of that corporate control.”
Like most political parties, the Communists are focused on housing but mostly social housing and subsidized housing. According to Burnett, the focus on creating housing is also a jobs plan; good union construction jobs will undertake the task of building much needed housing that will be geared to income, and geared in such a way that won’t see anyone spend more than 20 per cent of their income on housing.
“So much of the platform feeds into other parts of the platform,” Burnett explained. “I think about mental health, for example, and if you can actually have your needs met, and have time with people that you want to be with, or if you don’t have to worry about where you’re going to sleep, you’re going to get better.”
But Burnett also wanted it known that there are other issues that no party, other than the Communists, is talking about, and that’s the role they bring to this and any election.
“Another thing we have in our platform is reducing funding for policing and the militarization of the police. I think if we had more support in other places, maybe we wouldn’t need the police as much, but I think the militarization of police is really frightening in a lot of ways,” Burnett said.
“The other thing I’m thinking a lot about is women’s issues,” she added. “I realize that everything is a women’s issue, like housing and labour, but we really need to get rid of Bill 124. It’s offensive that public workers, especially healthcare workers and the people we’ve counted on for the last two years, are still stuck at that one per cent per year raise limit.”
With so many ideas to discuss, some of which are not being talked about among the four main parties, Burnett said that she wishes that she had more of a chance to take part in more all candidates debates and gatherings.
“It’s disappointing when it feels like some of the events happen before the writ is even dropped,” Burnett said. “You know, getting 25 signatures on a piece of paper is not that difficult, but trying to do it immediately, in a pandemic, when you’re a small party, is.”