March 31, 2011
INTERVIEW WITH MIGUEL FIGUEROA
From People's Voice.
As the May 2 federal election began, People's Voice interviewed Communist Party of Canada leader Miguel Figueroa about the campaign.
People's Voice: What are the most important issues around which the federal election will be fought?
Miguel Figueroa: I heard a political commentator dub this a "Seinfeld" election because - like that famous sitcom - this campaign will be `about nothing', without any pivotal issues or defining themes. But appearances can be misleading.
Stephen Harper and his stable of advisers in the Prime Minister's Office have been crafting such a scenario since the last election, and especially after their post‑election brush with death when their minority government was almost brought down (saved only by the prorogation of Parliament in December 2008). The Tory game plan is to `low‑ball' their economic and political program and avoid sharp confrontations which would more fully expose their reactionary anti‑labour, anti‑democratic agenda. That is the main reason why power has been so concentrated (and carefully scripted) in the PMO. Their `possum' strategy has been aided and abetted by both the mainstream corporate media, and by the feebleness of the opposition parties in Parliament, which have failed to bring forward substantive alternatives to Tory policies.
So, of course, this election is not about `nothing'. Far from it. It is all about the most central issue: the consolidation of Conservative political power in the form of a `stable' majority in Parliament. This objective is also what monopoly capital - the oil barons in Alberta, the bankers on Bay Street, and the transnationals - desperately want to put in place.
This is the crux of the matter. Over the remaining days leading up to May 2nd, workers, youth, pensioners, Aboriginal peoples, racialized communities - indeed the vast majority of Canadians - need to do everything possible to deny Harper and his cronies their coveted majority, and if possible drive them from the government benches entirely.
People's Voice: Could you elaborate on how this election relates to the larger class struggle for fundamental change?
Miguel Figueroa: Defeating the Harper Tories is a fundamental first step for our class in the fight to reverse the social and economic devastation wrought by capitalist governments for decades, and which have intensified over the past five years of Tory rule. This trail of destruction comprises a long list, but here are a few which we consider most central: (1) the accelerating erosion of Canadian sovereignty; (2) de‑industrialization and mounting job losses: (3) privatization and the resulting loss of public services, especially Medicare, public education and the CPP; (4) the increasing concentration of wealth for a small minority, together with declines in the real living standards of most working people, especially those increasingly herded into low‑wage and precarious job ghettos; (5) the growing deterioration of the Canadian and global environment; and (6) and the deepening attack on labour and democratic rights.
We realize that preventing a Tory majority, or even defeating the Harper Conservatives, will not in itself reverse this disastrous course and take our country in a new direction. The real battle for fundamental change will not be restricted to the ballot booth. It will be fought out across this country, in the workplaces, in our communities and on the streets of our towns and cities. The strategic orientation of our Party is directed to help bring together and unite the many threads of popular and mass resistance into a strong and militant People's Coalition of labour, social and national movements. Centered around a comprehensive alternative program which challenges corporate domination, a People's Coalition would put the interests of working people and our environment first, rather than the pursuit of profit.
But it would categorically wrong to remain indifferent to the outcome of this particular election, to sit it out or dismiss it as yet another futile exercise in bourgeois `democracy'. The labour and people's forces must be ever mindful of the political terrain that will arise after May 2nd. We need to work hard to expose and defeat the Tory juggernaut as an initial step in creating better conditions for more meaningful advance.
People's Voice: Defence and foreign policy issues are so far receiving scant attention in the campaign. Why is that?
Miguel Figueroa: It is true that the militarist, pro-imperialist Tory foreign policy agenda is not yet high on the campaign radar, despite the concerns of the Canadian people. Take Canada's role in the continuing imperialist war of occupation in Afghanistan - a reprehensible mission which the Harper Tories have extended for another two years (to 2014). The majority of Canadians have never supported this expensive, unjustified and totally unwinnable war. They want our troops brought home now. Canadians also have growing misgivings about the current imperialist aggression against Libya, which our Party strongly opposes. In both cases, the Tories have eagerly promoted these imperialist actions, without any principled opposition from the other parties in Parliament.
Or take the $30 billion dollar purchase of F‑35 stealth fighters. The Liberals complain that the contract was not properly tendered. The NDP rightly points out that the exorbitant cost comes at the expense of social programs, and both parties (as well as the BQ) are furious that Harper tried to conceal its full cost from Parliament. All these criticisms are valid. But no one, including the corporate media, is asking the more fundamental question: "what are these F‑35s for?" Canada doesn't need stealth fighters to patrol the Arctic or guard our 200‑mile coastal limits. They are for Canada's further involvement in aggression and wars abroad, as a fully integrated `junior partner' of U.S. imperialism.
People's Voice: Can you say a few words about the Communist Party's campaign and its objectives?
Miguel Figueroa: We will be fielding about 20 candidates across the country to put forward our `people's agenda' for a new direction for Canada. Our candidates will also connect the current economic and social crisis with the basic structural injustice and irrationality of capitalism as a system. We will make the case for a socialist Canada. And we'll be fighting for every vote we can win - the best way to send a message for fundamental change. Everywhere, we will work to build the ranks of our Communist Party, the most conscious and organized revolutionary detachment of the working class in Canada.
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