The 25th Central Convention of the Young Communist League of Canada met Sept. 24-26 at the University of Toronto.
"I think the overwhelming sentiment of delegates was that this convention was a tremendous success," said Johan Boyden, re-elected General Secretary. "Our meeting sent a bold demand for a stronger, more united and more militant youth and student movement in Canada, fighting for peace, jobs, accessible education, the environment, and a charter of youth rights."
According to Boyden, the convention had many tasks - to make an evaluation of the main dangers facing the youth and student's forces today and chart a course forward; to identify the strengths and challenges facing the League now; and to make constitutional amendments.
"It was a heavy agenda and delegates showed great discipline, I think," said Boyden. "They worked hard to keep a high standard of political debate up at all points, discussing the general situation of the young people's struggles, solving the necessary problems in resolutions, and keeping at it until 11 pm on Sunday night."
The major orientation of the convention discussion documents were towards reinforcing, broadening and developing YCL analysis and policy in the context of the Harper Conservative attack on the youth in Canada.
The first section dealt with the international crisis of capitalism and the offensive of imperialism. It emphasized that imperialism's attack on the youth was all-sided - ideological, political, economic, and military - but that brave resistance movements from Palestine to Cuba were confronting this agenda and demanding peace and sovereignty.
The economic crisis, now entering `round two' has had a particularly tough impact on the youth, the convention noted. More and more, youth are facing a choice of which side of the barricades they stand - with the working class and its allies or the boss.
The majority of the convention dealt with issues in Canada, including young workers, peace, students, the environment, and other struggles of youth for equality, people's culture and a democratic solution to the national question, and a proposal for a Charter of Youth Rights.
"The idea of a Charter of Youth Rights brings together all these areas of struggle in a way the YCL can now debate and dialogue with the youth and students about winning urgent demands from the perspective of the need for broad social transformation. That transformation is, we think, really a revolutionary process of uniting the youth with the working class and people's forces towards an anti-monopoly, anti-imperialist and a pro-socialist agenda," Boyden said.
Convention discussions paid particular focus to the fightback of youth and what holds it back: barriers to youth participation in trade unions, the importance of connecting with labour councils, the need for unity of the students against the right-wing attack on campuses, unity between English-speaking students and Quebec, and the importance of building the peace movement, blocking military recruitment.
Special convention greetings were given by Dave McKee, President of the Canadian Peace Congress, as the delegates marched out onto the streets to participate in the cross-Canada day of Action against extending Canada's involvement in the war in Afghanistan.
Rejecting the original proposal that the YCL focus on the issue of climate change, the convention decided that the League will turn its energies to the environmental crisis overall, with special attention on climate change. Discussion and argument sharpened the YCL's understanding of environmental problems like capitalist agro-industry.
"This means the League will be speaking about another issue concerning millions of Canadian youth," Boyden said, "and is also a very urgent question: nature or profits?"
The convention demanded the YCL pay closer attention to the struggles of young women, which are also important struggles for young men. This includes the need to defend and expand victories made by the pro-choice movement, violence against women, and sexism. A special fraction of women delegates brought forward a serious discussion about recruiting more young women to the League.
"This convention shows the YCL has made a qualitative step forward in all-rounded way since our last convention in 2007," Boyden said. "I think it said: we're not giving up. We're here to fight. We put socialism back on the table within our movement. We're not afraid!"
There are objective reasons for optimism amongst the youth today, he added, pointing to resurgent calls for socialism, especially in Latin America.
In his greetings on behalf of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Canada, party leader Miguel Figueroa urged the delegates to foster communist principles and values and to continue their efforts to grow the future of the revolutionary movement. Figueroa urged the YCL to continue its focus on the 17th World Festival of Youth and Students in South Africa this December.
At the end of the convention the delegates elected a new nine-person Central Committee, (with seven regionally-based alternates) and representation from British Columbia to Nova Scotia. Five are young women; five are active trade unionists; six are student activists. The CC elected an executive of four people including Drew Garvie, YCL Ontario organizer, as at-large; Marianne Breton Fontaine, leader of the LJC-Quebec and editor of Jeunesse Militante as treasurer; Stephen Von Sychowski as Central Organizer, and Johan Boyden as General Secretary.