Thank you for giving us your time for this interview. Initially, can you tell us something about yourself, your background?
K: Well, I was born in Montreal 82 years ago. I will be 83 in June. I joined the Communist Youth Organization, the Young Communist League, in 1927. Then I came to Toronto in 1929 to become the South Ontario’s organizer for the Young Communist League. Then I became the National Secretary of the young Communist League. In 1938, the comrades said it’s time that you retired. You have become too old to be a young communist! So I went into the Party and was asked to go to Quebec to become the Quebec Organizer of the Communist Party. I was there for a length of time.
Then the war broke out. The Party proposed that all the Party functionaries move around so that they would not be arrested. So I was asked to move to Hamilton. I was there for a year or so. Then I was asked to go to Toronto to become the Metro Party organizer. Then the Party was declared illegal. So I was sort of underground. After the war expanded when the fascists attacked the Soviet Union, the situation changed. We agreed to form the Labour Progressive Party, so we could undertake public activities in support of the war and at the same time work to have the ban on the Communist aParty lifted.
Finally the ban on the Communist Party was lifted and we decided to renew the name of the Communist Party of Canada. I was asked to become the General Secretary of Communist Party in 1965 when the General Secretary Comrade Leslie Morris passed away. I have been in that capacity until 1988. I was the National Chairman at that time and I thought it was time to retire. So I retired. But I am not really retired. It is very hard to retire because your mind keeps on working. Then we ran into difficulties here because the Party has become very sharply divided. It is a tragedy because the Party had a consistent internationalist position with clear class interests.
The Party is now split. There are two different groups. One group has adopted a revisionist stand. They are out to liquidate the Communist Party and become some sort of a social democratic party. The majority of the comrades however want to keep the Communist Party and adjust whatever has to be adjusted but maintain the Marxist-Leninist principles of the Party. The majority wants to maintain its internationalist outlook. I must say that I am on the side of those who are fighting to keep the party intact as a Marxist-Leninist body based on democratic centralism.
I had the opportunity in my time to visit many countries. I have visited the Soviet Union, GDR, Poland, Romania, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Vietnam, Cuba, the United States of course, France, Spain…. I was asked to go to Spain to set up the McKenzie-Papineau. Battalion because we had 12 to 13 hundred Canadians fighting in Spain. They were part of the American Abe Lincoln Brigade. We said we wanted a Canadian Brigade. And I was sent to negotiate with the government to establish the McKenzie-Papineau Battalion. I was sent to Spain twice in that connection.
There were varied types of experiences of our Party. It is too bad I’m getting old. I am currently writing my memoirs on the political developments in the country, of my years in the Party and about recent international developments. The only thing now is to find the money to print these memoirs.
It is a good thing I went to Cuba for 2 weeks. The first week though it was raining all the time. The second week, however, was sunny. It would have been terrible if I had gone there for only one week. Rain, rain, rain. It does happen sometimes. It is nice there actually. Nice, lush and green. Though they have had some bad floods. Terrible storms and the water had overflowed the embankments in Havana and flooded many area. Even the place where I was staying had some damages.
They must be going through some tough times with the current developments.
K: Yes, but the people seem to be taking it quite well. As a matter of fact they are getting a lot of international support. At the time I was there, the Brazilian People’s movement sent an airplane full of medication. In France, the French Communist Party and the people’s movements there sent a ship full of medicine and other necessities, It landed in Cuba, in Havana when I was there. The Italians are trying to send them medicine and other necessities. The Scandinavian countries are sending them a ship full of oil. There’s a growing feeling that everything must be done to help Cuba and not to allow the United States to strangle Cuba and Socialism. And that is how solidarity is growing. I said there that when I get back I will discuss with other friends on what we can do.
There were several functions for Cuba.
K: Yes, there was one last Saturday and about 300 to 500 people attended. There were many Latin American participants. They had a speaker, the Cuban Trade Commissioner, who spoke about the situation in Cuba. He got a very good hand from the people who were present.
The US government is playing for time, It hopes and works for the internal collapse of Cuba like that which took place in the USSR and in Eastern and Central Europe. After the US election the situation may become more dangerous for Cuba. US imperialism is pursuing a two-fold tactic directed to undermine Cuba, a soft approach and a hard approach. This year will be a particularly hard year for Cuba and the Cuban people. But they are confident they can survive. Imperialism says Cuba is isolated, but this is not so. There is growing support for Cuba throughout the world. The capitalist media distorts what is taking place in Cuba. There is no hunger in Cuba. The Cuban people don’t want charity. What they want and expect is international solidarity directed to prevent intervention in the internal affairs of Cuba.
Such solidarity support is growing in different parts of the world. It is beginning to find reflection in Canada also although yet on a limited scale. Such solidarity support should take on a two-fold character — political in the sense of building a powerful movement directed to prevent US military intervention in Cuba, and two, material support such as medicines and other essentials.
The events in the USSR has its negative as well as its positive results. It has forced Cuba to undertake trade relations in Latin America and in other countries. The events in USSR has also forced Cuba to undertake independent economic development and rely less on trade with the USSR. They ate confident they can tackle this question in a satisfactory manner with the cadres they have.
In the prevailing situation [effort] needs to be made [to make use] of the differences in the imperialist camp to help widen solidarity support for Cuba. We see this as a test of the Party’s internationalism and the prevention of US intervention in the internal affairs of Cuba.
On the Soviet Union, I asked them how they see the situation in the Soviet Union. They said that Gorbachev started off in a good way but he ended up in a bad way. He went in the wrong direction and he undermined the Socialist system. He thought that the so-called free market would overcome the crisis but what it is doing is opening to capitalist system.
So for the Cubans, it is quite clear what the situation is. They have no illusions. They are on guard around the clock to make sure that American imperialism does not take advantage of its superiority now that Socialism has been seriously weakened.
First, we would like to know a brief history of the Canadian Communist Party. Then, the Communist Party’s opinion on the recent upheavals in the world at large and in the Canadian Communist Party itself, the effect on Canadian Communist Party’s policies. And finally, can you tell us what you think of the future of Communism and the Communist Parties around the world?
K: On the history of the Canadian Communist Party, we have a hook. Perhaps you can get hold of it. In any case, we were formed in 1921. We held our first meeting in a barn in the City of Guelph. At that time, Communism was illegal. It was not a polite word in capitalist society. In that meeting in the barn we agreed there to establish the Communist Party but it was difficult because of the War Measures Act, Communism and a Communist Party were illegal. We had to agree to form a workers party alongside the Communist Party. So we had a Communist Party which was illegal and a workers party when it was legal; it was a bit complicated because it was the same person in the workers or Communist Party.
Finally it worked out when in 1924, the War Measures Act was repealed. Then we had a convention to form the Communist Party of Canada. So even though the Party was born in 1921, formally it was established in 1924.
The Party undertook a campaign to help organize the unorganized. At that time the workers were very poorly organized in the mass production industries, the auto industry, steel industry, textile industry, and other industries. We helped to organize them, wherever the masses of the workers were. We cooperated with the American Communist Party in this effort which led to the formation of the CIO in the United States and in Canada. The organization of the workers in the mass production industries was a decisive factor in defending the interests of the working class and in helping them to move in the direction of independent political action. This is actually what happened in the States and much faster in Canada.
At that time, the economic crisis broke out in 1929, if you may remember, in the United States and in Canada. Some Communists said then that the laws of capitalism may operate in some capitalist countries but not in the United States and Canada. This was the background of the theory of ”American exceptionalism”. They said that capitalist crisis would develop in Europe but not in the United States and in Canada. Well, while we were arguing about whether there will be a crisis or they won’t be a crisis, the crisis broke out in 1929. And this had a terrible impact on the people of Canada. No one expected it except our Party.
So we undertook to organized the workers to protect their living standards. We called on the unemployed to organize to gain jobs and unemployment insurance. We called upon the workers in the industries to protect their interests and organize in their unions. We called upon the farmers to protect their farms because they were in danger of losing them. We called upon the young people who had nothing to do except going up and down the country in the railways to unite with the working class in the struggle for better jobs, which were rapidly vanishing. And we combined that with a campaign for repeal of Section 98, a law that prohibited the Communist Party from functioning.
Finally the McKenzie King government of Canada promised that if they were re-elected, they would repeal that law. In Toronto, particularly during that period, they did not allow the Communist Party to function. We couldn’t hold any meetings. So we went to the streets, and we did. No matter what the police did, they couldn’t prevent it. So finally we won, so as to speak, the rights of the streets. We achieved a democratic victory. And, of course, with many casualties.
When I first came to Toronto from Montreal, there was a public meeting. I was arrested and spent 30 days in jail. So I spent my first days in Toronto in a Toronto jail. That was my experience. And from there, the struggle developed and grew. Then, of course, the war broke out. And our Party, like other Communist Parties interested with that question, were unsure: is it an imperialist war, is it a just war, should we support it, should we oppose it? There were mixed feelings in the Party. There was much confusion. We made some mistakes in judgement but we corrected them.
We worked to win the working class for full support for the war. Our Party had been partly legal at that time and many of our comrades were in concentration camps. And some of us were out. We agreed to give ourselves up if the government was to release us. Finally we came to an agreement because the war had changed and public opinion was sympathetic to us. They wanted to know why they were keeping us in jail.
Communists were dying all over the world, so why shouldn’t we be freed and be allowed to do whatever we can to wage the war against fascism? So the government was forced to bring about some changes.
We combined the struggle against fascism with the struggle for Canadian independence because the American capital was gobbling up Canada and buying out whole industries. You had the name of Canada but in fact it was American controlled. So we combined the struggle for the Canadian worker and against the threat of nuclear war and for Canadian independence.
We helped to gain the support of a substantial section of the working class so that for a period we had the leadership of 14 unions in Canada and the Secretary Treasurer of one of the trades union was a member of our Party. That was a good situation. But, unfortunately, the Cold War came in and resulted in sharp divisions in the country, in the labour and progressive movements. The CCF (Commonwealth of Canadian Federation, a forerunner of the current NDP) increased their support and so did the NDP. The bourgeoisie used the situation to try to isolate us from the working class and progressive forces and in part they were successful. We lost many electoral positions as well as positions in the trade union movement.
Now we have this situation. The Cold War is over. We suffered a lot from the Cold War. The capitalists had tried to isolate us. We had elected members of the provincial parliament, in municipal government. We had two members in the legislature, in the House of Commons. We had much growing support in the movement, and the progressive forces. But the Cold War had changed all that. We suffered some severe setbacks.
One thing that can be said about our Party is that despite having all these setbacks, we had clear cut class positions and internationalist positions. That was the case in the war in Spain. Some twelve, thirteen hundred Canadians fought in Spain. We supported the struggle of the Vietnamese people, the struggle of Korea against American and Canadian aggression.
As far as I know, the situation has now changed. Events in the Soviet Union have sort of confused our Party and the Communists everywhere. Different conclusions were drawn from what is happening in the Soviet Union. And in our Party, there has been a virtual split. There is the possibility of two parties. One is the Communist Party and one that wants to become a social democratic type of party, a left party. They follow the Italian Communist Party in the sense that they have proposed to be called the Democratic Party of the Left. So they are trying the name here. They are of the same tendencies. But here they don’t have the majority of the members. It is a state where seventy percent of the membership supports us while perhaps thirty percent supports them.
But what they have is the leadership, the control of the Party and its assets. So they used it. We had a building. The building was bought by the members. The building had been burnt down by some fascist elements. We had raised hundreds of thousands of dollars around the country to help to rebuild it. So these fellows have sold it. We had a print shop, the building as well as the print shop. So they have sold the print shop. We had a publishing house. So they close that down, too. Since they have the control, they are able to undertake these actions. But we are trying to combine political and legal actions against their measures.
In this struggle more and more members are turning towards us now. The British Columbia Party in the main supports us. The Ontario Party in the main supports us. The Manitoba Party supports us. The Maritimes Party supports us. Only the Quebec Party and to a certain extent the Alberta Party and a few individuals here and there supports the present leadership. So it is a struggle. We did not form a separate party because we thought of who controls the assets. If we form another party then they would control the assets.
But was this put forward to the mass membership?
K: Yes, that is what we proposed. But they didn’t [do it]. Remember, they didn’t pay for it. It was the Party members that did. They paid hundreds of thousands of dollars. But formally speaking, under the law, they’re in control of the Party. The Party’s central body, the apparatus and so on. They are using the paper, the Canadian Tribune to express their line of thinking but refusing to publish anything written by any of us.
So we are in that kind of situation. The problem for us is to combine the struggle against the wrong line with mass public activity, now that the economic crisis is upon us. People are concerned with the future. What do you propose? What do you do? You see that the ”others” have not said a thing about what should be done. It shows that they are bankrupt. I call it a bankrupt policy, a bankrupt leadership. The situation is that we are likely to win. Inevitably, whether we win or not win — and we will win — the Communist Party will be reformed.
We are talking about the possibility of getting out a paper, but the paper costs money. But if we have a paper, we can forward our point of view. The "others," all they do is tail behind the social democrats, they don’t have an independent voice; they don’t even have a clear view of the crisis so the paper is vital. We are getting out a bulletin, The Ontario Bulletin. Maybe we can talk about it later. It comes out quite irregularly. It is not possible financially but at least it tells of how the struggle is developing in the Party, and is a focus on the various committees that are responding to the inner Party struggle and are following the developments in the Soviet Union.
These developments are taking place in the background of a new international situation with US imperialism, the only superpower in the world. Bush says that they have won the Cold War. But what have they won? The capitalist world is in a recession. The contradictions within the imperialistic camp are growing. Bush as you see is being increasingly pressured by the right wing capitalists to follow a more isolationist and protectionist course from what we have seen till now. Japanese and the German monopoly capitalists are trying to make headway in the situation and trying to strengthen their own positions at the expense of their competitors in taking advantage of the weakening position of socialism to advance their own interests.
Is there another perspective of socialism in the Soviet Union? Is socialism finished in the Soviet Union? I don’t think it is finished. The Party obviously made some serious mistakes and thus fortified the position of Gorbachev and his [group]. He eliminated the vanguard role of the Communist Party. He eliminated the idea which Lenin introduced that Socialism must be defended for the defense of Socialism. He gave up the struggle for Socialism.
It is a struggle between two currents basically. The so-called “reactionaries,” the hard-liners, or the Marxists, on one side, and the so-called “progressives,” who are really the reactionaries or the counter-revolutionaries, on the other side. There is a struggle between the counter-revolution and the revolution in the Soviet Union, or what used to be the Soviet Union. It is not over yet but [it is] developing along these two main lines.
And together with this, there is the course of nationalism which was opened up by Gorbachev, and also by Yeltsin. The Commonwealth Republics of Independent States is a concession to nationalism. These forces threw Socialism overboard, threw internationalism overboard, and substituted nationalism for internationalism. It is a terrible tragedy, and a terrible mistake. I have confidence personally that sooner or later the people of the Soviet Union will get out of this situation. We can see from the demonstrations that are developing in different parts of the Commonwealth of Independent States that the struggle is mounting.
Instead of cooperating with the national democratic forces, with the Communist and Workers Parties, Gorbachev substituted cooperation with imperialism for cooperation with the people’s struggles. This accommodation to imperialism has undermined Socialism in the USSR.
I think myself that one day the Communists, Marxists, the Armed Forces, the working class and the intellectual movement, the collective farmers, will form a coalition, combine with the truly national forces, not nationalist but national forces in other republics, and achieve a recognition in the country. So, one has to be patient as some things have to take time. After such a serious setback, these demonstrations show that there is a growing peoples’ movement at shaping up in defense of socialism.
I’d like to return to the Canadian Communist Party’s position as to the changes in the world.
K: Well, it has had a serious effect, because it has caused a split in the Communist Party. Those who in fact accepted the line of Gorbachev and those who opposed it or opposed those who went along with the elimination of Marxism-Leninism as a basic principle of the Communist Party or democratic centralism, internationalism in contrast to bourgeois nationalism. Those who are presently in charge of the Party have lost all concept of internationalism. They have turned their backs on the struggles of the peoples in other countries.
Their whole orientation is to support the NDP. We can understand the need for cooperation with the NDP, but it should be on a platform, not by negating the Communist Party. We call for actual support of the NDP. You have to have your own independent voice, your own independent role. You don’t have to be sectarian but neither do you have to be an opportunist. You’ve got to say what the Party stands for and fight for its principles. If you don’t have that, then what have you got? Why have a Communist Party? All you do is support the social democrats?
It is a sharp struggle that is unfolding in the Party. And it stems from what is happening in the Soviet Union. Because some of the loose statements of Gorbachev, Yeltsin and the others have made, has opened the door to the liquidation of the Communist Party, and this has undermined the understanding of the principles of Marxism-Leninism of the Party. So, the struggle here has become sharper. You know what they have done? They have expelled several members of the Party who were members of the Executive Committee. They have expelled 11 members in Ontario, including Ms. Rowley. And they are the ones who speak about democracy. They want to be more democratic, don’t they?
I have four more questions for you. First, what do you think will be the future of Communists and the Communist Parties around the world? The second question is specific to Canada, on the aspects of the current recession and the current crisis in capitalism around the world as well as in Canada. Third, the Canadian Communist Party’s current stand towards unemployment, the Party’s role toward the issue of the part-timers or the part-time workers. More specifically, how does the role of the part-timers affect the class struggle? In an article by Gus Hall, he says the issue of the part-timers is introduced into the labour force by the capitalists to stand against the struggle of the working class, in order to divert or deviate the working class in their struggle for their basic rights. How do you think the issue of part-time workers influences the role of the trade union movement, which is basically the formation of full-time workers?
K: Well, the first question first. This matter was raised in Canada some time ago and we saw that the way in which the capital was trying [to gain] from weakening of the working class, because what they do is that by hiring the part-time workers they don’t have to pay them unemployment insurance, they don’t have pay them pensions. They don’t have to pay them all those social amenities that the workers in the trade union movements have now.
That is the whole purpose of it. They are getting cheap labour that way. The trade union movement is driven to an extent to overcome the situation by demanding that part time workers also get the benefit of social programs. There is a struggle presently underway in Ontario over a new labour bill which the pro-labour NDP government is proposing. In general, what is central here is the need for full employment which would help make part time work important.
On the second question, on the unemployment issue: You know it is really a shame because our Party has rich experiences on this question. In fact, we were the first ones during the crisis of 1929 to advance a program to deal with the crisis. Now the present leadership doesn’t even utter a word on the subject. Instead, it relies on the NDP and trade union movement to indicate what should be done. But where does the Communist Party come in? It must have its own voice, it must have its own say, it must have its own program. There’s no such program. There’s nothing that is written down. Except for some individuals who may here and there say something.
So they’ve completely neglected their responsibility in this regard. And, because of the internal struggle in the party, very little has been done generally, even by our side so to speak.
Now how I estimate the economic situation? I think myself that what we have here are the elements of a world-wide capitalist economic crisis — such as Canada and the United States are going through serious difficult difficulties. Britain is having great economic difficulties. France is in great economic difficulties. All the countries in Europe are in difficulties except Germany, which is now coming into economic difficulties and Japan is now also in serious economic difficulties.
And they are, of course, trying to bargain with American imperialism to get a better situation for themselves, because what they want is for the United States and Britain and other countries to recognize and agree that they should have an equal role to play in the Security Council and in other bodies on a world-scale. They were kept in a certain position. But they are trying to change that now with their more favorable economic situation to blackmail the rest of the world. What I am saying here is that they want to capitalize on the economic crisis, and more so now that the Socialist countries have a much less say.
What is needed here would be a program, and a program that is directed to stimulating the economy. The Mulroney govrenment in Canada is using the deficit as a pretext not to take any measures to stimulate the economy. Mr. Mazankowskis going to say tomorrow in the budget that there’s no money to put in the program (that could be of much of use for the people in Canada). They are using the deficit as an excuse not to do anything. At the same time, one should not fall for the argument of the deficit, because even though you have the deficit you have to need the argument to not to stimulate the economy or let the people suffer the consequences. In the present emergency situation, there is a need for emergency measures to put Canada back to work. There is a need for democratic control of the economy so as to stimulate it.
So, here comes the question of the struggle. So far, unfortunately, the labour movement has not entered into the struggle in a full way and our voices are not there. So, what should be the Canadian proposal? First is to stimulate the economy and two, to raise the purchasing power of the people. If they don’t have these two elements, the crisis is going to deepen. Canada should break with NATO because we don’t need the NATO now that we have a peace time economy. [Also needed is] a vast retraining program, an alternative program; the elimination of the Free Tram Agreement and the Goods and Sales Tax, and increased Unemployment Insurance for duration of unemployment.
Thus here, in a sense, is a golden opportunity for the Communist Party to come forward with a well-worked out program in support for the workers, [especially] now that we have three NDP governments in British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Ontario. So far, there have been no indications what they can or should do. That is where the Communist Party comes in. It is important for us to campaign to combine massive agitation and education on the nature of the economic crisis, on what should be done, what our proposals are to deal with these.
Now the first question regarding the situation of the Communist Parties. As far as I know, jost parties have been faced with serious setbacks as a result of these events in the Soviet Union. So, it is understandable that all Communists have looked at the Soviet Union as a place which inspired the peoples’ struggle for freedom, for independence, for democracy, for Socialism. Now suddenly, puff…. It is finished.
Why? What happened? This needs to be studied. So far, we have not seen an analysis on what really happened. Gorbachev in the earlier days made the statement that there’s a set of committees to study some of the mistakes and to correct the mistakes and so on and so forth. But nothing has come out up to now. The only thing that is come out is that there’s no Soviet Union. There’s no more Socialism. There’s no more Communist Party. As a result of Gorbachev’s experiment, and Yelstin’s experiment and also Yakolev and the others, you see what has happened. The people are struggling, or demonstrating and yet no one of them or other members of the Central Committee are demonstrating with them. Not one of them. Where are they? Where are they? They are supposed to be Communists. What are they up to?
Anyway, as I said, there’s confusion, a setback in the Communist parties. In different regions, it began to find different expression. In Bulgaria, for example, the Party changes it is name to Socialist Party. In Italy, they changed the name to the Democratic Party of the Left or some similar name. This led to a split in the Italian Party. So now they have two parties: the Democratic Left Party and there’s the Communist Party. The Communist Party has about 50,000 members. I wish we had 50,000 members! They have Senators, Members of Parliament. — such staunch supporters of the Party, of Marxism-Leninism.
The British Party folded up. And now they’re talking about forming the Democratic Party of the Left. The Communist Party of the United States has so far taken a very clear position. The Greek Party has taken a good position. I think the Portuguese Party has taken a good position. I think that more and more of such Communists are expressing these ideas.
In Eastern and Central Europe, some are confused, some have changed their names. They are no longer Communist parties; they are Socialist parties. As long as your principles are there, well and good. But when there are no principles, and you change your name, there’s not much use to such a change. We were faced with the need to change our name during the time our Party was declared illegal. So we had changed the name. But as the situation changed, we reverted it to the Communist Party. We were forced by virtue of the government’s action to change our name, but later on we changed it to back to the Communist Party when the times changed.
Now there is a discussion in our Party to change the name. Some of the revisionist elements want to change the name of the Party and keen towards the name "Democratic Party of the Left, which is the name of the new Party in Italy.
In general, statements are made that the [Soviet Communist] Party made this mistake, that mistake, or the other mistake. But what exactly? Is Marxism wrong? Is Marxism-Leninism wrong? Was Marxist economy wrong? Has capitalism changed? If it has changed, what has changed? What has it changed to?
Nothing has changed in respect to capitalism, except that they have become more clever than before. Even though they have made more concessions to the people, they basically haven’t changed. They are the same exploitative system.
So I think that the confusion that exists will sooner or later be overcome. I have great faith in the Soviet Union and its Communists. Sometimes I tend to be idealistic. Yet, they have a strong materialist foundation. It is true that the Soviet Union has made serious mistakes. But over time these mistakes will be corrected.
Considering the internal struggle the Party is undergoing, there are three issues on which I would like to know your opinion: What is the Communist Party’s view on the Free Trade Agreement (FTA), on the coming elections, and lastly, on racism, discrimination, or what is called here the “equity issue”?
K: First on the elections. The election may take place next year. It could be this year but more likely next. The parties are prepared for it, i.e., all the mainstream parties: the Progressive Conservative Party, the Liberal Party, the New Democratic Party, now the Reform Party and the Parti Quebecois in Quebec. The Conservatives are in great difficulties. According to the polls, they are at 11 percent of the popular support. What has happened to them is that they have been squeezed.
In the west, where they had strong support, they have been replaced by the Reform Party. The Reform Party is more extreme rightwing than the Conservatives who are right wing enough. And they are playing upon the backwardness of the farmers and are being backed by the finance interest. And they’ve made some headway. Their claim is that in the elections they would wipe out the Conservatives in Alberta. That may or may not be the case.
In any case, they have made a headway in Saskatchewan, in Manitoba, in British Columbia. So the Tories in the west are in danger from the Reform Party. In the East, the Tories have struck up an alliance with the Nationalists and, on basis of that alliance, they have made certain concessions to the Nationalists like in Quebec. And now the Bloc Quebecois has entered into the picture. It is possible that the Tories might be facing some resistance and cease being the majority party in Quebec. So, in the west, the Tories are being squeezed. In the east, they’re being squeezed. That hurts. At the moment, it is doubtful whether the Tories can form another government.
So, you have a very volatile political situation and in my judgement; it could be that way unless the situation changes dramatically — there would not be any single party that would have a majority of seats. You’ll have a minority government. And as the question presents itself, either the Tories form a bloc with the PO in Quebec and the Reform Party in the west and achieve a coalition of the right wing forces or there comes in being a coalition of the NDP and the Liberals.
The key question here is that of a program. What will be the program? The big question is that of the Constitution. What immediate measures are needed? Our Party is opposed to separatism. What we need is the cooperation of the working class in English Canada and in French Canada. In the given situation, separation would only benefit US imperialism.
It is a pity that, in the Party, there is a leadership who presently dominates the Party, who seem to have come out in support of separatism. What value is that to the struggle of the working class and to the struggle for Socialism?
Our position on the Constitution is that we have always fought for the working class in Canada, but with the rights of the French Canadians fully guaranteed. They are a separate nation. Their rights need to be established based on an equal voluntary partnership and leadership. Now, the numbers are not the same. The French are 6 million and the English are approximately 18 million. But here we need more than just arithmetic in politics to view this question.
There has to be, secondly, the rights of the Native Peoples, the inherent rights of the indigenous people. They were here before the English and French came to Canada. So their rights were established a long time ago. These rights shall be expressed in regional self-government. What does self-government mean? How can that come true? This should be so in the case of the native peoples’ education, the maintenance of their culture, their languages. And what about the question of the resources? Whereever they are is exactly the areas where there are huge resources, which these monopolies won’t turn over to them. They need to have the inherent right to self government.
Next is the action on the question of the recession. What measures should be taken in view of the recession? Based upon active intervention of the government in the economy with the measures of democratic control over monopoly, measures of control over American plants in Canada, that is to say, a pledge for full employment policy. That is, social programs and elimination of the FTA and the GST.
The Liberals have modified their position a little bit but not yet fully. They have come out in favor for the renegotiation of the FTA, Well, that could be a clever tactic, or a not so clever tactic, because I wonder at the time of renegotiation their aim might to be improve some of its features rather than ending the FTA. But I think they have a bit of a firmer position on the GST. Of course, the NDP has taken a very good position on the FTA.
As to foreign policy, the danger of war is not yet over. What does it mean to have American imperialism as a the only superpower in the world, as the world policeman, as the only country in control of nuclear weapons? Canada needs an independent foreign policy. It should end its membership in NATO, cut its [NATO] programs and use the funds for economic and social development. The main task of the Communist Party is to consolidate its position amongst the people. The stronger the Party is, the stronger will be the NDP. And the stronger will be the left currents in the Liberal Party and the progressive currents generally.
On the question of racism and discrimination, we have undertaken a considerable amount of work on this score, there is no question. But we need to combine education and legal measures in the society to make it a criminal offense to exercise any sort of racism, and discrimination. I think that the level of understanding in the people is much higher now, they seem to be more responsive to support and to see it put into effect.
What could and should be done in the educational system is that a child at the very beginning must learn that racism is a poison. The reactionaries say that action against racism is an attack on the rights of the people. They say there’s no freedom.; there’s no rights of the people on racism. It is only when action is taken against racism that you are attacking the rights of the people.
Do you think the situation on racism could develop dangerously in Canada.
K: Yes, I think so. Because you see the result of the vote in the United States between Buchanan and Bush and Duke shows that in the United States perhaps more than in Canada racism has taken a dangerous turn. And what happens in the States will likely develop in Canada.
Preston Manning seems to be very much full of it.
K: He has a definite position to the race issue and on the ethnic peoples. No question about that. We need to elevate the struggle for democracy to this question of racism and its many forms.
Well, Comrade Kashtan, again I would like to thank you for giving us your valuable time and this opportunity to share your knowledge.