In this excerpt:
- National minorities;
- Immigrant and migrant communities, immigration;
- Problems with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms;
- For a new constitution;
- The struggle for socialism and the national question
Francophone minorities living in English-speaking Canada, Anglophone minorities living in Quebec, and Aboriginal peoples and Acadians living away from their national homes are all national minorities with the right to educate their children and receive state supported services in their own languages, wherever numbers warrant.
Immigrant and migrant communities, immigration
With the exception of the Aboriginal peoples, Canada is a country of immigrants, old and new. Comprised of hundreds of diverse ethnic groups, who will eventually merge with French-speaking Quebec or English-speaking Canada, these ethnic groups have the right to preserve their language and heritage and to pass it on to succeeding generations through state-supported language and cultural programs, and through state-supported cultural and community activities.
The Communist Party recognizes that this two-sided process of merging and preserving language, culture and heritage, is of long duration, influencing and enriching Canadian culture as a whole.
Immigrant workers from many lands have played a vital part in building Canada’s industries, railways and agriculture. New immigrants form a considerable portion of Canada’s labour force. Immigrant workers continue to suffer from acute discrimination, arising in the main from capitalist exploitation and attitudes of national chauvinism.
From its foundation the Communist Party has struggled to end discrimination against immigrant workers, working to expose how capitalism generates racism and national chauvinism, profits from low wage areas, and divides the working class to hold back the overall struggle.
Most immigration to Canada has been structured to support colonialist expansion and capitalist exploitation. In the colonial period, the English and French ruling classes not only directed white settlement that oppressed and displaced Aboriginal peoples; they also exploited most immigrants as a source of cheap labour and primary production.
Later patterns of immigration under the Canadian state continued racist, chauvinist, and anti-labour policies in expanding settlement and building capitalist industry. The notorious treatment of Chinese labour in the building of the CPR and of immigrant labour in the textile industry and agriculture are characteristic of how Canadian capitalists have tended to segregate and super-exploit groups of immigrant workers.
Canadian state immigration policy is also class-oriented. Working class immigration is used as a reserve of ready labour to undercut average wages and conditions. Capitalist investors are privileged while victims of imperialist aggression, labour activists and political progressives are turned away.
There is a massive uprooting of millions of people as a result of the growing impoverishment of less developed countries, destabilizing imperialist-inspired wars and environmental disasters, and the growth of criminal trafficking in immigrants.
To reduce these international movements of dispossessed people and political refugees requires progressive policies for world economic development and peace – not more repression of immigrants or elimination of their democratic rights. The communists demand priority in immigration to refugees, elimination of privileged entry to capitalist investors, phasing out of guest-worker provisions except for genuine educational, scientific or cultural exchange, and the full protection of immigrants through an immigrant bill of rights.
Problems with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms
The Charter of Rights and Freedoms is also seriously flawed. While formally recognizing certain fundamental rights – freedom of association, assembly, religion, and of the press, and the rights to liberty and security, and equality without discrimination based on race, gender, religion or national origin, etc.- it also permits the federal and provincial legislatures to simply use the “notwithstanding” clause to deny these basic human rights in practice.
A Bill of Rights for Labour was denied the working people of Canada, leaving the trade union movement with no constitutionally guaranteed rights.
Municipalities continue to be denied status in the repatriated Constitution. Though the majority of Canadians live within urban municipalities, these bodies can be created and dissolved at will by provincial governments.
A new constitution would prohibit the violation of the civil liberties of immigrants. It would outlaw racism and discrimination. It would assure the democratic, cultural and language rights of the non-French, non-English ethnic groups in Canada.
For a new constitution
A new constitution must embody a Bill of Rights, and a Bill of Rights for Labour, to provide guarantees of trade union and democratic rights which apply to the people of all nations within the Canadian state. These guarantees must ensure economic, social, cultural and linguistic equality, the right of assembly, the right to organize and strike, the habeas corpus right not to be arbitrarily deprived of one’s liberty, the right to a job, to freedom of movement, to health, to education, to housing. The rights of women, youth and children must be guaranteed.
A genuinely democratic constitution must be accompanied by basic structural reform. To overcome regional inequality, these reforms must be based on the necessity for all-sided economic development in all parts of Canada, combined with nationalization of all natural resources, above all energy. Through publicly-owned corporations, benefits from the development of natural and energy resources must serve the people of Canada as a whole as well as industrial and social development in the provinces where the resources are found.
The erosion of local democracy has its roots in the absence of constitutional status, jurisdiction and rights for municipalities. A democratic constitution would recognize municipalities, guarantee local municipal autonomy, and create the most favourable conditions for local democratic control.
A new constitution should unify social legislation to provide equal opportunity and high standards in all of Canada while respecting the sovereignty of Quebec, and the right to self-government of the Aboriginal peoples. It must ensure that the corporations will not be able to escape responsibility for the contribution they owe to public education, living standards, and the health and social welfare of all Canadians.
Most important, a new constitution will help to remove the causes of the long-standing disunity, friction and resentment between English-speaking Canada and Quebec, and the Aboriginal peoples’ inequality and national oppression.
The struggle for socialism and the national question
The Communist Party sees the struggle for a democratic solution of the constitutional crisis as an integral part of the struggle against capitalist rule. The Communist Party stands for the unity of the working class in the struggle against this common enemy – domestic and international finance capital. Victory in the struggle for democracy and against political reaction, for Canadian independence and for socialism requires a powerful alliance of the working class of English-speaking Canada and Quebec, together with the progressive forces in Aboriginal and Metis communities and among national and ethnic minorities.
The historic direction of these struggles is toward the achievement of a higher form of democracy through the establishment of a socialist state and the rule of the vast majority of the Canadian people.