Canada’s third-oldest political party gathered at the Steelworkers Hall in Toronto over the April 5-7 weekend, amid important signs of growth and renewal.
Formed in 1921, the Communist Party of Canada has kept its "eyes on the prize" of socialism for over nine decades, despite periods of intense ruling class repression.
The 37th Central Convention of the CPC came after two years of a majority Conservative government in Ottawa, but also in the wake of new upsurges of popular opposition to right-wing attacks. Delegates from across the country spoke about the fightback in their own areas, particularly the Occupy actions against economic inequality, the Quebec student strike of 2012, the Ontario Common Front, and most recently, the Idle No More movement which has put the racist character of the Canadian state front and centre.
Many of the nearly fifty delegates and alternates at the 37th Convention have been deeply involved in these movements, at the front line of resistance against the corporate agenda. A survey of the delegates found that just over fifty percent were trade union members, helping to bring the organized working class into the centre of the fightback. A wide range of delegates were participants in many other movements, including Aboriginal people, women, students, youth, civic reform groups, seniors, racialized communities, civil rights, anti-war, LGBTQ, and more.
Elected during March at provincial nominating meetings, the delegates came to debate a Main Political Resolution which was the focus of intensive membership study over the past three months. These discussions resulted in over 140 amendments to the Resolution, which became the subject of lively debates on the floor of the Convention. The proceedings were interpreted by a team of professionals and volunteers, to allow delegates to listen and speak in both French and English.
The amended Resolution, which confirms the CPC as a revolutionary political party based on the ideas of Marxism-Leninism, was adopted unanimously. Over fifty messages of greetings were received from Communist and Workers’ parties in other countries, reflecting international recognition of the Canadian party’s proud history and revolutionary traditions.
Delegates also adopted special resolutions on a wide range of topics, and a Plan of Work for building the Communist Party over the next three-year period.
The final day of the Convention saw the election of a new Central Committee, which will lead the work of the CPC until the 38th Convention in 2016. With 22 members from Nova Scotia to Vancouver Island, the incoming CC includes veteran Communists with decades in the revolutionary movement, as well as nearly one-third first-time members, bringing valuable new experiences and perceptions.
Miguel Figueroa was re-elected as leader of the CPC, a post he has held since the successful battle in the early 1990s against the attempt by a former leadership group to liquidate the party. The new Central Executive includes Ontario leader Liz Rowley, Quebec leader Pierre Fontaine, People’s Voice editor Kimball Cariou, Hamilton trade unionist Sam Hammond, and Jane Bouey, a long-time activist in movements to defend public education, and for LGBTQ and women’s equality rights.
It wasn’t all work for the delegates, of course. A Saturday evening banquet drew a packed house of Party members and friends for a delicious meal prepared by the Belogiannis Club of the CPC. Miguel Figueroa gave a toast to the CPC, and musical performers included Toronto’s Wally Brooker and Zach Morgenstern, and Victor Pardo from Vancouver. On the final day of the Convention, there was a powerful cultural presentation by author Stephen Endicott, with friends and family members, on his new book, "Raising the Workers’ Flag", a ground-breaking study of the communist-led Workers’ Unity League of the 1930s.
Wrapping up on Sunday afternoon, delegates dispersed back to their home provinces. As Miguel Figueroa stressed in his concluding remarks, the Communist Party is united and growing, and ready to tackle the huge challenges facing the working class of Canada in the next three years.
The Main Political Resolution and other documents of the 37th Central Convention will be posted on the party’s website when editing is finalized, at <<www.communist-party.ca>>.