The expansion of Occupy Wall Street actions across North America is a welcome boost for the movement to check the power of transnational capital. The conscious decision to rise up together against corporate rule is a powerful and liberating act, with enormous potential. Tens of thousands took to the streets of cities and towns across Canada on the October 15 weekend, proving that we will not meekly accept the Harper Tory/corporate agenda.
As the Communist Party said when the Tories won a majority in Parliament with less than 40% of the popular vote, the crucial fightback by working people over the next four years will take place in our streets, workplaces and communities. Today, this struggle is around the rights of the "99%" to assemble in public spaces, to organize forms of collective resistance, and to speak out for fundamental economic, social and political reforms.
Our most urgent need at this moment is to strengthen broader unity in action, especially among working people, who form the vast majority of the "99%". While there are many important issues raised within the Occupy movement, unity can best be built around demands which undermine the power of our common enemy: big capital. The corporate drive for maximum profits is responsible for destroying our planet, and for the escalating attacks against workers, Aboriginal peoples, racialized communities, women, youth, seniors, and other sections of the people. Ultimately, stronger collective resistance against this deadly enemy can open the door to a process of genuine democratic social change, leading towards a socialist future.
One of the outstanding strengths of the Occupy movement is its breathtaking diversity. From its beginnings on Wall Street, the movement has attracted a stunning range of participants, including many who are taking action for the first time. This movement is a sharp challenge to the claim that "there is no alternative" to the policies of big capital and its governments and parties. The growing participation of organized labour and other progressive groups shows that within this diversity, there is strong support for a "people's alternative", based on the needs of working people and the environment, not the greed of the corporations.
The positive response to the involvement of trade unions and other progressive forces emphasizes the need for labour and its allies to help build the Occupy movement. Such a strategy can help block and even defeat the attacks by the Harper Tories and the corporate bosses - especially their assault on decades of hard-won social and collective bargaining gains. Recognizing this basic truth, many union locals, labour councils and provincial federations have mobilized for the Occupy events.
It's true that such tactics call for a careful approach to avoid accusations of "labour domination." On the other hand, holding back from coalition-building, or offering only lukewarm support, could leave the organized sections of the working class at the mercy of the right‑wing attack. Failure to seize the opportunity presented by the Occupy protests would be an historic blunder; we urge all affiliates and Labour Councils to encourage the leaderships of the Canadian Labour Congress and the CSN (Confédération des syndicats nationaux, or CNTU) in Québec to prioritize all-out labour support of this struggle.
This is not to minimise the challenges facing the attempt to build a powerful, broad campaign for change. Initial enthusiasm for mass action has sometimes been dulled by lengthy debates over how to create perfect democratic structures. The welcome process of open, inclusive debate has occasionally meant that speakers' lists are dominated by individuals with the loudest voices, rather than those who speak for large numbers of workers, Aboriginal peoples, racialised communities, women, students, seniors, farmers, homeless people, and other targets of the capitalist agenda.
But these difficulties should not become an excuse by progressives and labour activists to dismiss or ignore the Occupy movement. We must all join the debates and present our views and ideas, which are based on the experience of many campaigns to defend labour rights, democracy, equality, and social justice.
In this spirit, members of the Communist Party of Canada have been active from the start of the Occupy actions across this country. We will continue to help organize broader and more powerful unity of the 99%, around demands which hit back at the power of the 1%, the transnational corporations.
Here are some of the immediate demands which our Party has proposed:
* Nationalize the banks and insurance companies!
* Double the corporate tax rate, especially for the largest transnationals, oil companies, etc.
* Good jobs, liveable wages and benefits for all!
* End attacks on workers' rights!
* Stop privatizations and cutbacks to public services!
* Make education (including post‑secondary), healthcare and childcare accessible and affordable!
* Build social housing, and significantly raise the minimum wage and welfare rates!
* Cut military spending by 75%!
* Fight climate change, not wars for energy resources!
Our aim is a socialist Canada, one in which the productive wealth of society is collectively owned and democratically controlled, not by the 1% of the rich and powerful corporate interests, but by the working people. We welcome your comments and feedback around these proposals. Contact us for more information.