April 24, 2011

Communists campaign on hamilton picket lines

The leader of the Communist Party leader was in town Monday to help Bob Mann’s campaign in Hamilton East-Stoney Creek. Miguel was last in town marching with the “People vs. US Steel” rally a few months ago, organized to support the 900 locked-out Local 1005 members, as well as 9,000 retirees whose pensions will be de‑indexed if US Steel has its way. Today he returned with Bob, also a retired Steel worker, to the 1005 picket lines to make the lock-out and the government’s abysmal record an election issue.

The Communist Party has condemned the actions of US Steel, including the companies demand to exclude new hires from the defined benefit pension plan. (In a 2007 letter to union members, US Steel had promised to properly fund and protect the plan, because unlike others, it understood the value of good pensions to employees. Clearly, this letter was just part of a cynical propaganda campaign to convince Canadians to support the foreign takeover of Stelco operations. The cost of the purchase was $1.2 billion – the exact cost of the pension plan.)

Nationalization under public control is what governments at all levels should be addressing and implementing, says the Communist Party. This must include key sectors: basic steel, energy and natural resources, banking. Further, this must include production of a small, fuel-efficient, environmentally sustainable Canadian car, as part of a transportation plan to build rolling stock in Canada.

“Canada has a right and an obligation to build up the industrial base of the economy in the interests of Canadians,” the Party said in a statement. “To kick-start a recovery in the real economy, we must create jobs, and raise wages, living standards, and purchasing power.”

According the Party, since governments don’t represent Canadian interests, or Canadian workers, escalating mass, independent labour political action must force governments to act. The Communist Party is calling for the expanding action of the whole community and the whole labour movement to win the struggle in Hamilton. “1005′s struggle is being fought on behalf of working people everywhere,” the Party said.

After the campaign visited the picket lines at the U.S. Steel plant, Dan Nolan with the Hamilton Spectator newspaper interviewed Miguel.

Why do you feel the Communist Party is still relevant?

“We think the issues that we are addressing, the environment, peace, the impact from the economic crisis, the mass bailouts to the rich, the fact that youths and pensioners are still struggling … We think that by injecting our ideas into this election campaign it will set a basis for what happens after May 2.”

What keeps you going as leader of this party?

“It’s part of the Marxist perspective that there is quantitative and qualitative change … Communists have been dubbed as hopeless optimists. I certainly prefer to live my life in an optimistic way, rather than as a pessimist.”

What is your ideal of a Communistic system for Canada? The Soviet Union, China, Cuba, North Korea?

“The most important thing is for the people themselves to decide … We’re not abandoning the certain basics of socialism. For instance, you cannot have a truly democratic, equitable and just society when you have the main means of production owned by the capitalists who pull all the strings. They pull all the strings on Bay Street and Parliament Hill responds like a trained seal.”

Why not throw your lot in with the New Democratic Party?

“The NDP is not socialist … It’s social democratic. They consider themselves to be better managers of capitalism than the current neo-conservative or neo-liberal parties. They want capitalism with a human face. We, on the other hand, are anti-capitalist … This is a system that is based on private ownership and based on exploitation.”

Are you going to watch the royal wedding?

“Oh yeah, right! Let’s stop the presses because all these other things like the earthquake in Japan or the bombing of Libya … they are already giving long-term forecasts (on TV) for what the weather will be like that day. All these other things are secondary … Please, I’m sorry. I will be in Ottawa (that day) campaigning for the Communist Party.”

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