CPC(M-L) HOMETML Daily ArchiveLe
                  Marxiste-Léniniste quotidien

July 1996 

Hardial Bains Sends Letter to
Broadcasting Arbitrator

The National Leader of the Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada, Hardial Bains, sent a letter to the Broadcasting Arbitrator, Mr. Peter S. Grant, on July 4, 1996. The full text of the letter follows.

Peter S. Grant
The Broadcasting Arbitrator
Elections Canada Headquarters

Dear Mr. Grant,

The Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada is taking the opportunity to comment on the allocation of broadcasting time to raise one of the most important and urgent questions in this period with all political parties, especially the small parties. The large quantity of continuous propaganda about the parties in the House of Commons, especially the party in power, puts other parties, particularly the small ones, at a total disadvantage. The views of small parties never become the topic of household discussion as there is complete silence about them between the elections. When an election is called, they are again at a disadvantage as the views of all parties are not debated in the media. The party in power and the other "major" parties set the agenda. The entire election is fought on the basis of this agenda, ignoring the small parties altogether.

In our opinion, the small parties can play a crucial role in changing the situation. Our demand is that all considerations regarding electoral broadcasting time, including "free time," must be based on the strict equality of all political parties. A renovated political system will recognize all political parties as equals as a matter of principle and common store. Such a principle needs to be fully appreciated at a time such as this when raising the prestige of politics in the eyes of the electorate is the order of the day. How can anyone besides the electorate, which is the real arbiter, determine the worth of a political party.

We reiterate: if democratic criteria are to guide the political process, all political parties must be provided with an equal share of broadcasting time. At the same time, we are proposing to all parties, especially the small parties, that they work together to politicize the electorate. One proposal is to establish a common publication through which each political party can present its own views. The publication would provide each participant with equal space, with the costs being equally shared as well. Another proposal involves cooperation in working for the representation of each political party in the House of Commons. The small parties have a good opportunity to cooperate with one another to achieve representation by agreeing to field only one small party candidate in a certain number of constituencies.

In our opinion, the question of how to divide "free" and "paid" broadcasting time is extremely important in relation to raising the level of politics in the society. Which political party would not want the electorate to know the views of all political parties? An informed electorate will be in a better position to make a political judgment about the stands of each party. To inform the electorate about all the political tendencies is not a "partisan" issue but a "non-partisan" one. Allotting all parties equal "free" and "paid" time will contribute to politicizing the situation and uphold one of the basic tenets of democracy: an informed electorate.

The Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada reiterates its strong belief that all political parties should work together to renew the political process so that candidate selection is carried out by the electors from amongst their peers. All political parties should have the confidence that the electors in a constituency will be better prepared to make a good judgment on election day if they have already participated in the selection of candidates.

We are issuing a challenge to all political parties to work together to raise the prestige of politics in the eyes of the electorate. Supporting the principle of equality in the allocation of electoral broadcasting time will be a step in the right direction. In this regard, we congratulate the nine political parties for the common stand they have adopted on broadcasting time. Other parties could show their desire to raise the prestige of politics in the eyes of the electorate by joining with the nine parties and lending their support to the principle of equal broadcasting time for all political parties.

In conclusion we would like to assert that whatever the Arbitrator decides regarding the allotment of free and paid broadcasting time, the urgent need for political parties to cooperate in a common program to inform the electorate about the views of all political parties does not disappear. An informed -- electorate is a requirement and guarantee of democracy. Fulfilling this requirement will not only raise the prestige of politics in the eyes of the electorate, it will also contribute to providing a stable political climate in which political opinions can be freely expressed. As the party of the working class, the Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada is committed to direct democracy through which people can exercise control over their lives. This is a form of democracy consistent with the needs of our society on the eve of the twenty-first century. The current system is based on what was established in the nineteenth century. The electorate was extremely restricted at that time and it made sense for its political parties to select their candidates and campaign for their election as the best representatives of the interests of that extremely limited electorate. But today, while the franchise is universal, only two to three per cent of the electorate belong to political parties. It is therefore not consistent with democratic principles to allot broadcasting time or any other electoral resources on the basis of any privilege whatsoever. The political process should be renewed so that the entire electorate is enabled to select candidates from amongst their peers. This was the case when the political process was established in the nineteenth century with an electorate restricted on the basis of property holding and all those who were franchised participated in the selection of candidates. We encourage all the political parties to work for the renewal of the political process to make it consistent with universal suffrage and the needs of the times.

Agreeing to the division of electoral broadcasting time on an equal basis is a good start towards democratic renewal, as is cooperation on proposals such as a common publication through which all the participants can express their views, and the proposal for small parties to run only one small party candidate in each constituency.

We hope that the "major" parties which, so far, have not agreed to adopt the principle of equality in the allotment of free and paid broadcasting time, will do so now. This will help to raise the level of politics in Canada and restore the prestige of politics in the eyes of the people. It will also adhere to the democratic principle of an informed electorate.

Should any party want to discuss the proposals contained above with the Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada, we are at their disposal. We will be sending more details on the proposal for the common publication and other matters raised in this letter to all federally registered political parties before August 31.

Hardial Bains
National Leader
Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada

cc: All Federally Registered Political Parties