My mother’s favourite uncle Oscar died fighting against fascism, shot by a Nazi sniper in the streets of Caen 71 years ago. We owe it to him, and to all those before us who have struggled for a better world, to cast a ballot on October 19. But we also need to be clear about what’s at stake.
So, is this election about the past nine years of Harperism, or about the future? Or both, perhaps?
On one level, this campaign revolves around a single question: how can we defeat the most militarist, racist, misogynist, anti-democratic, environmentally destructive, pro-corporate government in history? During the last two months of collecting nomination signatures and leafletting voters, I’ve heard that question hundreds of times. Everywhere on the streets of Vancouver Kingsway, people are desperate to dump the Tories and their divisive politics of hate and fear.
Anything could still happen before October 19th. But Harper and his clique seem to be heading for heavy losses at the ballot box, including in the Vancouver region. If that does happen (i.e. if we all vote!), there will celebrations across the country on election night, including at the Communist Party campaign offices.
Yes, dumping Harper is the crucial next step. But here’s where it gets more complicated, because this election is about much more than putting an end to the terrible legacy of the last nine years. Electing a different party doesn’t change the system. As we saw in Greece last summer, it might not even slow down the corporate austerity agenda.
When we wake up on October 20, Canada’s capitalist economy will still be owned by huge transnational and domestic corporations. The extraction and export of unprocessed tar sands and other fossil fuels will continue, along with the colonial oppression of indigenous peoples. Women will still earn 30 percent less than men, a million and a half working folk will still be unemployed, and students will keep sinking deeper in debt. Canadian troops will still be bombing Iraq and Syria (and training pro-nazi militias in Ukraine!), and any criticism of Israel’s apartheid occupation of Palestine will still be condemned by the parties in Parliament.
No matter who wins this time, much bigger struggles are needed to win a future in which our economy is owned by the people, not the one percent. The only way to reach a future of global peace and disarmament, justice for indigenous peoples, full liberation for women, an end to exploitation of workers, and true environmental sustainability, is to build a truly powerful coalition of people and movements, in the streets and workplaces and schools, and ultimately at the electoral level.
Such a coalition is the only way to achieve the socialist future that many of us want for ourselves, for our families and friends, for our community, and yes, for the working class of Canada in all our glorious diversity of languages, ethnicities, cultures, colours, genders, and ages.
Before then, on October 19, people in Vancouver Kingsway have a number of choices on the ballot. How can we connect our votes on this date with the longer term goal of ending the toxic system of capitalism? My answer is to vote for grassroots people’s politics and truly fundamental change. That means a vote for the Communist Party, which has the most comprehensive platform to create sustainable jobs, build social housing, tax the wealthy, and slash military spending.