August 15, 2020 - No. 30

Important Anniversaries

Comrade Hardial Bains, Founder and Leader of CPC(M-L), at the
Party's historic meeting in Chertsey, Quebec, August 1989.

• Revisiting the Significance of the Historic Conference
Held in Chertsey, Quebec

• 25 Years of the Party's Historic Initiative
A Turning Point in History and Our Decision of September 1, 1985 

Important Anniversaries

Revisiting the Significance of the Historic Conference Held in Chertsey, Quebec

On August 19, 1989, the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) held a historic conference in Chertsey, Quebec. Hundreds of CPC(M-L) members and supporters along with family and friends participated in a week-long social and political gathering in Chertsey held to celebrate the work of CPC(M-L) and discuss unfolding events. The events were presided over by the beloved National Leader and First Secretary of the Party's Central Committee Hardial Bains.

More than three decades have passed since then and, to our great sorrow, Comrade Bains  himself passed away on August 24, 1997. Nevertheless, the significance of the Chertsey meeting remains and becomes more evident with the passing time. The national and international developments which have unfolded since the Chertsey conference confirm the retrogression and dark reaction predicted by Comrade Bains at that time and, equally, the determined resistance of the working class and people all over the world and the inescapable need for revolutionary political leadership, organization and theory to realize the aims of the movement.

At the time of the Chertsey speech the world was in a period of transition from flow of revolution to retreat of revolution. Within a short while the world saw many changes, including the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the bi-polar division of the world.

"A great movement of the peoples demanding deep-going economic transformations was still in the making and was gaining momentum in various parts of the world, especially in Eastern Europe as well as in some other places. However, this movement turned against itself. It was manipulated by world imperialism and revisionism. From a flow of revolution, the situation turned into one of retreat in a matter of a few months after the Chertsey conference.... the Chertsey conference was for us a statement on the part of CPC(M-L) that not only will the Party not be manipulated by world imperialism and revisionism but that it must continue to carry out its work," Comrade Bains said five years after the gathering in Chertsey.

Hardial Bains addresses the historic 1989 meeting of CPC(M-L) in Chertsey, Quebec.

Comrade Bains' elaboration of the nature of that period prepared the Canadian revolutionary forces for what was to come by analyzing precisely what was unfolding nationally and internationally at that crucial turning point. He spoke of the historic world victory led by the Soviet Union and Joseph Stalin against Nazi-fascism and of the social programs created by the socialist societies. He warned about the grave dangers posed by Anglo-American imperialism and described the great tragedies unleashed on the world's people by U.S. imperialism, the numerous wars, invasions, coups d'état and medieval violence against the peoples striving for independence and social progress. He warned of greater tragedies to come.

The prediction of Hardial Bains that the anti-communist hysteria being whipped up by reaction would bring about an assault on the peoples of Europe and elsewhere became a reality. The old world shouted with euphoria that "communism is dead" and "history has come to an end." He predicted that this euphoria would turn into darkest revenge and reaction. He led CPC(M-L) to prepare for the treachery arising within all forces which persisted in acting in the old way, including within our own ranks. He led CPC(M-L) to stand steadfast and true.

With the 5th Congress having been held a year earlier, Comrade Bains gave a summation of the work being carried out by the Party to implement the Congress decisions and the consistent work of the Party to create the subjective conditions for revolution.

"...This is a celebration of the birth of a movement which the Canadian working class and people gave rise to, and that movement is more than a quarter of a century old. I personally as an individual do not matter because individuals do not set the course of things. It is the social force. You see, history has a cunning, anybody who rises above the masses today, history chops his or her head off, socially speaking, although sometimes it may happen physically as well! This is not the era of knights and individual heroes. It is an era of the collective work of the working class and its allies. It is the era of the Party, the era of imperialism and the social revolution of the proletariat, as Comrade Lenin said. So in this meeting we celebrate the developments, the progressive movement, the strengthening, stabilizing and consolidation of a political movement. And we have that political movement here: our Party, its allies, its mass organizations, especially the Mass Party Press of which we are very proud."

Comrade Bains militantly set out what the communists should do next to further build CPC(M-L) as the political party of the working class so as to realize the political unity of the people. He predicted with certainty that the youth, despite all of the anti-communism promoted by reaction, would answer the call of the communists to take a stand for a just cause. He declared, "We say very openly that we want the rule of the working class and no one else... because it is the working class which is the producing class and is the most thoroughgoing revolutionary class whose aims cannot be achieved without overthrowing capitalism through revolution.... Today it does not matter which question is taken up... the bourgeoisie cannot find a solution. Only the working class can find a solution. It is the working class which is at the centre, and our views are the views of the working class."

Comrade Bains declared, "The most important problem in terms of specific work is to win the mass of workers over to the side of the Party.... One should go with a passion, like one goes towards a loved one because this beloved of ours, the working class, it is the only social force which can save the world, save humankind. With the grave danger posed by Anglo-American imperialism, Russian and world reaction, there is no other way to save the world from the crisis which is looming.... The working class can lose battles but not the war."

"A new communist has come into being on this soil of Canada which is nurtured by the Marxist-Leninist spirit of our party. With such a new personality they think they can smash us, destroy us?! I say to you... we will become millions, you watch us -- because we represent what the working class wants, we represent what the oppressed masses of people on the world scale want. We are people without prejudice of any kind. We do not divide ourselves on the basis of race, on the basis of religion, on the basis of national background or gender or lifestyle. We unite ourselves on the basis of Marxism-Leninism, a common ideology for the working class of all lands. We unite ourselves on the basis of proletarian internationalism with the working people of all countries."

This new personality was not left to chance. To make sure a modern democratic personality emerges from the work to settle scores with the old conscience of society, achieving this was put on the agenda, a line of march was set to nurture it and the task was taken up to carry out everything consciously and with a plan.

Addressing the deed of the party five years after the Chertsey Conference, Comrade Bains pointed out, "In August 1989 on behalf of CPC(M-L) I had declared that new men and women have come into being on the soil of Canada. Who are these new persons, new human beings that came into being? Those who had lofty ideals, honesty and sincerity, a clear conscience and they sacrificed everything they had. They trail-blazed a new way of living under the conditions of capitalist decay. Such a colossal achievement is now coming under fire of those who want a part-time revolutionary lifestyle. They are telling us we are extreme to demand that one should watch one's words and deeds, that CPC(M-L) will not, in any shape or form, conciliate with the filth and rottenness capitalist society in its decay is bringing forth. They are trying to suggest that communists should divide their lives in two: one dealing with the way they carry out politics and the other with the way they live. If we degenerate into such a kind of 'communist' we will become two-faced, we will be a bourgeois decadent force and we are not going to become such a force. We have never recognized imbecility or sterility in terms of our overall work, nor do we accept impotency in the face of the situation. Our Party speaks with the deepest convictions on every front. There is no ocean in the world which is deeper than that. Its ideals are loftier than the highest peaks of the Himalayas and its resolve is such that nobody can define it."

In the period following the 1989-91 counter revolution, there were not a few parties that collapsed, unable to find their bearings within the new and complex conditions. The Chertsey conference is an event that assumes greater significance with each passing year. Chertsey stood then and stands larger still today as the symbol of strength, maturity and vitality of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist).

The speech delivered by Comrade Bains provides crucial guidelines which enable modern human beings to take control over their lives. It provided the guidelines which allowed the Historic Initiative and its first five-year plan of action to be launched in 1995 and subsequent plans of action since then, year after year identifying the crucial task to be accomplished in order to achieve the aims the party set for itself. It led to the adoption of the program Stop Paying the Rich -- Increase Funding for Social Programs! in 1997 and, in spite of the monumental loss of Comrade Bains on August 24, 1997, to the success of the 7th Congress held in 1998 which adopted the Historic Initiative and its line of march and the 8th Congress held in 2008 under the theme "Laying the Foundations of the Mass Communist Party."

Comrade Bains concluded that historic conference at Chertsey with the exclamation, "... we will march together and realize the tasks which we have set for the present time. Watch us -- we will win!"

Haut de page

25 Years of the Party's Historic Initiative

Hardial Bains launches CPC(M-L)'s Historic Initiative in Ottawa, January 1, 1995.

Twenty-five years ago, at a time when all political forces were busy manoeuvring to place themselves in power so as to administer the state in their own favour, the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) launched a plan of action to put the working class in power at the head of nation-building. This Historic Initiative was launched by the Party's founder and leader Hardial Bains on January 1, 1995. It calls for a modern constitution which vests sovereignty -- the decision-making power -- in the hands of the people and for democratic political mechanisms which ensure that it is the people who must govern themselves. It also calls for the rational and conscious reorganization of the economy, changing its direction to serve the well-being of the people.

It was very moving to hear Hardial Bains describe not only the details, paying attention to the objectivity of consideration, but also the interaction and the key -- the decisive role of organizing the human factor, social consciousness.

"This plan of action is so concrete and covers all aspects of organizing in such detail that the success of any of its aspects will lead to the success of the whole while the failure of any one or other of its aspects will have no effect on the outcome of the plan. More importantly, and as a decisive thing in victory, it puts the human factor, social consciousness, in first place, in the place which determines everything," Comrade Bains said at the time.

Hardial Bains explained:

"In the work of peoples and nations one of the most important and crucial aspects is what happens to all the energies which are engendered in the work. Are they utilized for a very definite aim or are they simply squandered? Today on the world scale, generally speaking, there are very few countries which have set an aim for themselves, an aim for the benefit of society, for the well-being of the people. [...] In Canada, as far as the Canadian people are concerned, there is no aim towards which all the resources are directed. The only aim which is presented by the governments at various levels is one of creating an environment for the success of the monopolies in the global market. And even that aim has mainly propaganda value, claiming that the prosperity of the country depends on the monopolies becoming successful in the global market.

"In medieval times, in the dark ages, the aim was set by the ruling forces, by the church and the feudal lords. It was directly self-serving in the name of some divine power. All the productive forces and all the assets of society were directed towards the satisfaction and greater glory of those forces. There came a time when a break took place with the medieval attitude; then people were defined according to their individual rights, and the jurisdiction and boundaries of the state were drawn in their defence. The aim was set so that all the resources available to society would be directed towards the greater glory of individual rights. However, this then blocked the satisfaction of collective rights.

"The whole period of nation-building became the main content of the democratic revolution. Once the modern bourgeoisie gained the upper hand, the satisfaction of individual rights became the sole aim of nation-building. With the rise of the monopolies, the banner of the nation was thrown in the mud. The states were consolidated and their role developed in the interest of the ruling circles themselves or the financial oligarchy. For instance, American propaganda speaks about defending the national interests of the U.S. everywhere, but it does not speak about what the Americans want to accomplish in this world. Canadians do not have an aim either.

"The only exception was the period of the 'dirty thirties' when the bourgeoisie was facing the disaster of the Depression. It was terrified that it would lose everything if the aim of satisfying the collective interests was not put in place. Thus, in the late thirties and after the war various countries gave themselves the aim of building a social welfare state. In Canada, by the 1960s, they presented the aim of building a 'just society' and spoke about a 'sacred trust' which must be defended, and so on. This was also in response to the aim which the Soviet Union as a socialist country had set for itself -- that is, to satisfy the ever-rising material and cultural needs of the people.

"Now the collective interests are once again on the chopping block. All sorts of demagogy is used and all kinds of promises are made, but the net result has been the rejection of all that was said before about social welfare. This is done under the pretext that making payments on the debt to decrease national indebtedness is the most important aim at this time. On the basis of the claim that this is the best thing for the collective and for society, people are being called upon to make all the sacrifices. [...]

"In the Historic Initiative, the main question is: What should be the aim? Many times in the past various forces have set the aim based purely on the theoretical and ideological premises that we are for socialism. Can it be said that socialism is what the people should take up at this time, that at this time the working class should take up the construction of socialism as its aim and put all its resources behind this aim? Of course, such a decision can be made. It is consistent with our strategic program, but it will not stop the bourgeoisie from pushing its aims. Our consideration in setting the Historic Initiative is not merely theoretical and ideological. It is mainly how the working class must stop the bourgeoisie from squandering the national resources, the independence of the country and its well-being. What is the slogan which the working class must present in order to defeat the bourgeoisie and rally the masses of the people to its side? The answer to this question is to use the resources for the collective interests.

"The slogan of nation-building is appropriate not only because it opposes what the bourgeoisie is talking about -- that everybody should create an environment for the success of businesses in the global market -- but also because it arouses the people to take into their own hands what belongs to them and to create a society which will favour them. Of course, when everything is said and done, nation-building today is equivalent to the construction of socialism, but to present matters in this way will be making an extremely serious blunder. A program has to be set not from the point of view of theory, but from the needs of society at a particular time. Canadian society needs an aim at this time. The Canadian people need an aim which can be easily understood and appreciated by everyone. This aim can only be the aim of nation-building. Of course, the main content of this project is that the working class must constitute itself the nation. In other words, the aim of the working class must become the aim of the nation, just as the bourgeoisie in its ascendency put its aim, the aim of defending individual interest, private property, as the aim of the nation and even subordinated the nation to this aim.

"The time has now come for the working class to constitute the nation. It must establish its own aim as the aim of the nation. In other words, the working class itself must take up the question of nation-building. It must lead the broad masses of the people to take up this aim as well. It is not possible for the working class to channel all its resources at this time without taking up the aim of satisfying the collective interests of society. This amounts to nation-building. Nation-building in Canada can mean only one thing: that the working class must provide society with a modern constitution, with a modern political mechanism, with a change in the direction of the economy and with independence.

"The issue does not change, whether we speak of the nation of Quebec, or Canada, or the nations of the Indigenous peoples. When we speak of the sovereignty of Quebec, it is the working class which should take up the aim of nation-building at the point which is most favourable for the working class. ... [I]t must fight for a change in the direction of the economy, for a modern constitution, for democratic renewal, and for independence.

"The Historic Initiative is aimed at causing a discussion on the question of nation-building amongst the broadest masses of the people by using all the resources available to us. The Historic Initiative is a plan of action, the main objective of which is to ensure that a discussion on this question takes place. In other words, its aim is to get the working people to set the agenda of nation-building. Within this framework, the other aim for the working class is to create the conditions for the formation of the mass communist party. This means that one of the most important tasks in the Historic Initiative is to appropriate the best from the present and the past. It means that there is a need for work to develop and to enrich the content of contemporary Marxist-Leninist thought. It means to look at all phenomena and all events, and to promote those which favour the working class and favour the aim of nation-building."

The Party led and gave orientation to the workers' movement to set its own pro-social program to Stop Paying the Rich, Increase Funding for Social Programs.

Comrade Bains elaborated further:

"Besides appropriating what is best from the past, communists can find solutions to the complicated problems of the present. Only communists can lead the society to march on the high road of civilization. Only they can invoke and bring forth those theories, those human notions which are necessary to open the path for the progress of society at this time.

"The Historic Initiative is launched to call upon the working class and the broad masses of the people to bring to the fore the best that humankind has produced until this time and to develop it to the level necessary for the deep-going transformations which are the order of the day. In other words, it is a program to put the working class at the centre of all developments. More precisely, it is a program to put the human factor, social consciousness, at the centre of all developments. Of all the ingredients necessary to build a project, one has to decide clearly which ingredient is more important and crucial and which ingredient is less important. If the human factor is not there in the project of nation-building, no amount of scientific technical revolution, no amount of efficiency, no amount of other natural and social resources will make a difference.

"The human factor cannot be brought to the level necessary for these transformations unless there is social consciousness, unless there is debate and discussion amongst the broadest masses of the people, unless there is a real revolutionary movement with a mass character. In other words, the Historic Initiative is designed to create these conditions and to ensure that many of these aspects actually develop as essential factors in the creation of the subjective conditions for revolution. The human factor, in the final analysis, is the crucial factor. It is not possible to bring all the factors into play without the human factor."

On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of CPC(M-L)'s Historic Initiative, it is more urgent than ever to activate the human factor, social consciousness so as to take up the aim of nation-building and build the mass communist party to turn historic success into historic victory. In the midst of a global pandemic which has caused great suffering and exposed the grave consequences of decades of destruction of social programs, governments are using the situation to justify a further escalation of the anti-social offensive so as to consolidate even greater control over all the affairs of society in the hands of private interests. 

The anti-human factor, anti-social consciousness dominates the actions of the cartel parties in the parliament who, in the situation of a minority federal government with emergency powers, are pursuing their own self-serving interests to the detriment of the people. Federal and provincial governments are taking measures to suppress and silence the demands of the workers and Canadian people for necessary measures that would resolve the crisis in their favour. CPC(M-L) is stepping up its work to imbue the working class with the aim of nation-building which can only mean one thing: “the working class must provide society with a modern constitution, with a modern political mechanism, with a change in the direction of the economy and with independence.”

Today, even more so than 25 years ago, the Historic Initiative spearheaded by CPC(M-L) is crucial for all those who want to make a contribution to opening society's path to progress.

All Out to Turn Historic Success into Historic Victory!

Haut de page

A Turning Point in History and Our Decision of September 1, 1985

This year will mark the 35th anniversary of the decision the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) took on September 1, 1985 to build the Mass Party Press. It was a momentous decision which the Party continues to implement to this day. To appreciate the significance of that decision, TML Weekly is reprinting below the text of the speech delivered by Comrade Hardial Bains at the Party's 13th Consultative Conference held in Toronto on April 28-29, 1991, where he pointed out:

What was the decision we took on September 1, 1985? The analysis was that this is a turning point, and that no force can act in the old way. What should we do under the present circumstances? What should the Party do in response to its own analysis that it must act in the new way?

The Party gave the call to build the Mass Party Press. The decision to build a movement for enlightenment was part of this work. We had to throw away all encumbrances, all things which stopped us from realizing this aim. One such thing was to throw away the psychology of fear that the Party cannot do big things. For 15 years before the decision to build the Mass Party Press was taken, we had done many small things, but to continue in that way would have degenerated the Party. We had accumulated strength during those 15 years, and now we were in a position to utilize what had been achieved in order to go forward.

The Communist Party is a very complex institution. It cannot be described in simplistic terms. Its features of being the most organized and most advanced contingent of the working class and its general staff have to be developed in real life. In 1985 we wanted to make sure that those features were further developed and did not remain phrases, but the Party was not yet prepared to completely overcome the pressures which distorted the development of these features.

The September 1, 1985 celebration of fifteen years of the Party press took the decision to build the Mass Party Press.

When our Party began its work to implement the decisions of September 1, 1985, its first act was to build the non-Party Press, which would show how the Party leads on such a broad basis. Thus when we say that we are the most advanced and most organized, one of the proofs is the building of the non-Party Press. The Fifth Congress in 1987 again affirmed our Party's method that before names are given to things, they must first have a quality. It does not make sense to call somebody a human being before actually seeing the human qualities which identify the person as a human being. The same holds true for a party. Its constituents, its organizations, have to be most advanced, the most organized and possess the qualities of a vanguard, before you can call it a vanguard party.

In the 1960s when we were arousing the advanced elements to take up the task of building such a party, it was necessary to repeat the features the Party must have. A picture in the form of a broad outline can be created even before it actually comes into being, but if we just keep on speaking about this picture without actually creating it in life, this would mean that we are asserting something which does not exist in reality. Not only will such a thing not exist in reality, but the assertions made about its features in ideal form would severely distort reality. This would be tantamount to not paying attention to ensuring that the Party actually is the most advanced and the vanguard of the class. It would actually destroy such a party.

If in Canada and internationally public opinion does not think of us as advanced, then what is the purpose of asserting that we are advanced? What is the repetition that our Party is the most advanced, the vanguard, going to do in real life? With the work of the non-Party Press, at least a few workers, a few intellectuals got to know that we have the most advanced positions, that we are the vanguard, the most organized, that we are not fanatical or dogmatic. The proof of the decision of September 1, 1985, can be found not only in this work alone, but it can be seen in all the other work of the party as well.

Celebration of the successes in building the Mass Party Press, Toronto, August 31, 1986.

We can give many examples, but we will begin with just one. As all of you know, this year and last year, 1990 and 1991, have been very crucial years for us, during which all of us have discussed various matters, especially the question of the Party and the role of the member in the Party. What role does the member play in the Party? What qualities should a member have? Why is it necessary to work in a Party basic organization? Why is it necessary to strengthen the regional committees? What is the relationship between these organizations and the Central Committee? We may think good work has been done, but will a worker in a factory say it was good work? Will an intellectual respond and say yes, you have done very good work? Or will they say they do not know?

We must work in such a way that they do know. If we don't make the necessary turn, we will see what various other people who are lined up behind us will do to us. Imagine yourself in a car at the turning lane of an intersection and you refuse to turn; all the cars lined up behind you will be honking their horns. Such voices are coming up. They are demanding to know why we are not turning. The war in the Gulf region tested quite a number of people. It is very interesting that they wanted to turn, but backwards. That is not called turning. Turning back means to turn away from dealing with the crucial problems at any stage in the development of our movement. We are not talking about this kind of turning point.

Our participation in the struggle against the use of force in the Persian Gulf was honourable. It was a good, necessary intervention. The Party won friends, and most importantly, people considered the Party's positions to be just positions. But when the decision was made in 1985 to build the Mass Party Press, was the issue that we should get a favourable response and a medal of praise from the people on this or that matter? Unfortunately, comrades, some people were satisfied with this sort of thing. Not only were they satisfied, they were even theorizing and making speeches about it. They delivered lectures to us when we saw them but they had forgotten the decision of September 1, 1985, reaffirmed by the Fifth Congress of the Party.

In August 1989 the Party celebrated 19 years of the Party Press.

It is not possible to talk about participation in this or that front of work without assessing the implementation of the key decision. What was that decision of 1985, besides the analysis that this is a turning point in which no force could act in the old way, and that it was necessary to build the Mass Party Press? In essence, it can be described in one sentence: that the Party should be in the van of society. Can we say that this has been achieved? Can we say that everywhere our Party is in the van? There are still comrades who would ask us to define what we mean by van. For them, it ends with a clear definition of a thing, because they still consider the Party an idea, a place for the clarification of various opinions, an association in which individuals get together to talk about things.

I would like to raise the issue of our work in one of the cities. Our organization has existed in this city in one form or another for a very long time. We have over 20 years of continuous work there. This city has certain progressive and revolutionary traditions, even though some of these were under the influence of anarcho-syndicalism. Nonetheless, in terms of some important democratic questions, in terms of the mass response to the situation, this city is second to none. However, I was there on April 14, and I found that the Party is not doing very well. How is it possible that the Party is not doing very well there when we took the decision to have the movement for enlightenment five-and-a-half years ago? Many times we have asked the organization there how the work is going? What is being done on such and such a question, especially on democratic questions such as the struggle against the visits of American and Soviet warships, the struggle against racism, and so on? They will not answer. They say the Party knows. Where is that party which knows? We do not find that party because when we demand answers, they say they are thinking about it. Is this a relevant thing to say -- that we are thinking about such matters? Is this an example of the hard work of the last five-and-a-half years to implement the decisions which we took and which were ratified by the Congress in 1987? Has the organization in that city mobilized the members of our Party there to realize the task?

Thinking is a very good thing, but it is even better if the thinking is done in the course of implementing a decision. They should at least have that kind of consciousness. Unfortunately, I have to say that they do not have that. But when we discuss these matters with the comrades there, they are very content with what they are doing. In the 1960s we used to call those who engaged in this kind of activity navel-gazers. In other words, when somebody asks them what is going on, they look at their navels. We have to look outside. We have to make use of all our resources to analyze our situation, to draw warranted conclusions, to establish objectively what our actions are doing to the class, to the people, to the movement there. Then a summation can be made: What results have been achieved by an action taken? What further actions should be taken?

In 1968 our organization decided that the most important task within the conditions of the times was to create the Party, and that the first step towards establishing such a Party was, besides other things, the creation of the instruments of working class propaganda. Creating the instruments of working class propaganda did not mean that we did not participate in economic struggle; it did not mean that we did not participate in political struggle. It did not mean that we did not deal with the questions of theory and wage stern ideological struggle against revisionism and opportunism of all hues. What it meant was that this point had become a crucial one upon which everything else hinged.

April 12, 1970 issue of Mass Line announces the founding of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) on March 31, 1970, with this bold headline.

Our Party was founded in 1970 after successful work carried on this front, whereby comrades came forward for the cause of the working class, for the cause of communism. Right at that time we were faced with a dual attack -- one by the state and the other by the revisionists and opportunists. Of course, it is hard to convince anyone who was not in this reality that in Canada hundreds of people were arrested for their ideological and political convictions, that they were jailed, that the revisionists and opportunists openly collaborated with the state to ensure that this happened, that the leader of the Party and his family faced all sorts of dastardly attacks. What should the Party have done under those circumstances? Besides taking up the task of clearing the way on organizational and ideological questions, especially the political question of Quebec and other related questions, the Party spearheaded a heroic campaign which was called the resistance movement, in which nobody cowered in front of the attacks of the state. We were all inexperienced at that time in this form of struggle.

I remember the first day when a comrade was arrested in Montreal. We did not know what was going to happen to him. There was kind of a premonition that the person will be cut into pieces or burned alive. It was anybody's guess. Our tally is that during the 1970-73 period, close to 3,000 different arrests of comrades took place. All our main cadres and activists spent an average of six to nine months in jail. The Party came out of this struggle strengthened and more united. While we were waging this struggle, another struggle was imposed on us, an intrigue from a swaggering party in power in a foreign country. It did not want the Party that we Canadians established for our own political aims, on the basis of our own ideological convictions, on the basis of organizational forms which we worked out ourselves. On the contrary, this party and those aligned with it wanted to bless the whole world and turn various parties into their agencies. They created a situation in which either a party was recognized by them as "genuine," which meant it was willing to be their agent, or it should drop dead. That was the message. In December 1973, a man from Vancouver announced that he had internal information that this foreign party no longer recognized us. This was supposed to be a big weapon against us, a weapon that they were using everywhere to disorient, divert and disintegrate the progressive forces.

In 1971, an effort had already been made by this foreign party to split and disintegrate our Party. Far from splitting, we went through a vigorous development of unity amongst the communists and progressive forces. Virtually everyone who called themselves progressive and communist joined the Party. Many of these faces are present today, just as we are. This party could not achieve what it wanted to achieve, and the struggle began.

After it became clear that the Party could not be smashed through the state attacks, or through the secret service and the opportunist provocateurs, it was said that CPC(M-L) was not a serious party and that it was necessary to build a new one. That struggle went on for 10 long years. Every kind of thing was written against us, and many dastardly actions were organized in order to destroy the Party. But in 1982 they all declared that Marxism-Leninism does not work. In other words, they wanted Marxism-Leninism to be wiped off the face of Canada. Finally they admitted that much themselves.

During this period of attacks by the opportunists, we waged a struggle for the Party on two fronts. First, we carried on our principled position for the unity of the Party and still called upon everyone to unite in one party. If they could not do that, then they could unite by participating in unity in action. We opened various paths so that a much broader unity could be established.

Secondly, we took the measures to strengthen ourselves theoretically and ideologically. We established our ideological institute, which carried out this vigorous work. By 1977, we declared that we had won.

Of course, they all laughed. They claimed the Party was not so big, that the Party was just "six or seven" people. But they were not even one. Why? Because when they got together, a "whole lot" of them, they would say, "We do not know what is going on." Nobody would even defend their own organization. In other words, they had no members at all. The facts are verifiable.

In March 1977, the Third Congress took place. While it will go down in history as a great victory, on the one hand, it is also an example of the infamy of the state, whereby they arrested 17 of us just prior to the Congress and tried to frame us and in this manner sabotage our work. At the same time, hundreds of people from Montreal came forward to unite under the banner of the Party, giving rise to one of the largest political rallies, which was held in Montreal at the end of the Congress.

Demonstration in Toronto, March 1977, against the political persecution of CPC(M-L) following the arrest of 17 party activists immediately prior to the Congress.

The task of the Party changed to one of overcoming the detrimental consequences of Maoism. This work, which started in 1976-77, was further developed in our Special Congress held in April 1978, and went further. It was our Party which had the honesty and sincerity to recognize that some of the things which we had done were not correct and needed to be corrected. They needed to be corrected because we were not born infallible. We never had criticism that we were infants when we were born. This would have been silly. But there were aspects which needed to be criticized and eliminated before our Party could advance further. For example, the subjective attitude to revolution that a few activities or a few militant actions will spontaneously arouse the masses of the people was discarded. The thinking that there is no need to go through a whole period of political process was given up, and so on. In the sphere of inner-Party organization, there still persists a lot of pressure that either there is no democratic centralism, or there is all centralism. In other words, we have people who say, "We are not going to do anything until the centre tells us." Or conversely, "Why is the centre deciding this?" These positions come up when in the local areas an apolitical atmosphere prevails and decisions are not taken. Our Party has not agreed with either of these positions. It considers both positions to be diversionary. Neither makes an attempt to go into the heart of a decision-making process which puts people in a position of defending the decisions they take.

In the 1982 Congress, when the recession was setting in, when all the struggles waged had finally eliminated the Maoist groups, the Party took up the question of further implementing the slogan which was given by the Third Congress: namely, to bolshevize the Party, that is, to increase the mass influence and the mass character of the Party and to develop its leading role. It is within this framework of building the mass character of the Party, as fully and legally sanctioned by the Fourth Congress and re-sanctioned on September 1, 1985, that the question of the Mass Party Press was taken up.

In a nutshell, we can see our conscious history. Can the branch we were speaking about tell us their history? What tasks did they take up? Do they think that they can be called the most organized, the most advanced, the vanguard of the class? If they don't even know what they did and what the results were, how is it possible for a branch to know its history? What is it doing there? Why does it exist? Is it just for the sake of an idea?

Our working class needs regional committees which should be almost like parties, because Canada is a big country with conditions which are different in some ways from one region to another. One cannot operate in the same way in all conditions in all the parts of Canada. But to have a situation where a branch which has a history of over 20 years and has produced the main leaders of our Party and its main activists -- those who come from the 1960s -- to not know its history is not acceptable! If they could not do anything else, at least they could take up the well-known positions of the Party.

They want an organization that gets together without an aim, where everybody gives opinions about what the aim of their organization should be. The Party cannot accept that. We have an aim. If we are not clear about something today, we work hard and become clear tomorrow, but we do not take ages to carry out a program to become clear. This cannot be, because clarity is a relative term. One day we are clear about the problem we face today, and the next day when the situation changes, we again have to become clear. It is as if we are dealing with this starting point all over again.

Comrades, since 1985 when the banner of enlightenment was put forward, polarization has taken place on this question. Some cover up their opposition by saying, "Well, we just don't have time. If we had time, we would do all the things you say." And the Party responds to them: "It's very good that you don't have time. We can just imagine if you had time, how many other things you would have messed up! Because lack of time does not mean that you should be dishonest and insincere, that you should be a trickster." If someone does not like something we have done, then speak -- tell us! Maybe we were wrong. But we must not let go to waste the fine work which people appreciate and love. We have a responsibility.

When we look back at the year 1985, then this question arises: what did this decision mean? Was it some peculiar decision, relevant only for those few days and only for the scheme of creating a magazine -- or did it have a greater meaning? It had a greater meaning. It did not have that limited meaning. If that decision did not have a greater meaning, why would we have spent all this time carrying it out?

Comrades have come from all across the country to join the work of the Mass Party Press, with their fists high. Comrades from all over Ontario still come to volunteer to work in that place whenever they have free time. Even from outside this area and from across the country, comrades take holidays -- even long holidays -- to assist this work. They are not fools to have done it if it has no greater meaning. That it is just to establish a technical base, just to establish a press? Far from it. This greater meaning has its immediate practical consequences, which we will talk about as we go along. But the general greater meaning, the general practical consequence is that we must appeal to the people and respond to their demand to have a press which deals with their interests, which concerns itself with their interests profoundly and not in a mechanical way. All the organizations of the Party, all the comrades, must do their own work with the same spirit. The tasks should be implemented according to what people want, what they need, not just what we want.

If the decision of September 1, 1985, was based on merely what we wanted, we would have said we are not going to worry, we already have a press, why go to all this trouble? We can even dismiss this conference, join with others who say Marxism was wrong on such and such questions. We too could take a critical attitude, liquidate everything and go home. We were never so inclined. This work, in terms of Party work, has a profound meaning. This work for enlightenment, like any other work, does not have the aim of just recruiting members. It is for the purpose of arousing various people about their concerns, whether they join with us or not. In other words, its aim is not limited. It has a very broad and very profound aim.

In the same way, the basic organizations and the regional committees -- as we have discussed now and have been discussing over this period -- must work with confidence for the same politics -- that is, to respond to the concerns of the people, to present the analysis of their concerns, to assist the people in organizing themselves, and to be in the forefront of this organization. The Party should be at the head. The Party should be the leader, not in a banal or sentimental way, but by showing that we are not making these proposals just in words and are willing to carry them out in deeds. On this basis, all Party organizations will become one with the working class, one with the people, and not remain separated. There is no activity which can be described as an activity just of the Party. There is no such thing. All this work, all of our activities, are activities for the class, for the people. What we do has great significance for the fate of the class and people.

We have only one truth, but our attitude towards this truth is not mechanical. It is not that because this is truth we forget the concerns of the people or forget about the tactics, the forms of organization, the slogans necessary to get results. Such a thing which they call truth is not truth, but dogmatism and fanaticism. If someone goes on repeating that we stand for democracy, that we want all these things, but develops no tactics and does nothing to realize these aims, then it will not be truth, but a falsehood of the calibre of the obsolescent forces in denial. [...] It is very easy to have phrases, to have them writ large and to pontificate about them, but what are the results? The results are nothing.

We don't agree with this kind of truth. The decisions of September 1, 1985, had a profound meaning for our work, not only the work of the Mass Party Press, but the entire work. For example, we don't organize the workers to follow our line as an aim divorced from the interests of the workers. We organize the workers to defend their interests. We want the unity of the workers in their own interests, so that as they defend their interests and get experience in doing so, they also learn to organize, to make bigger, more advanced organizations, and finally rise up to end this system of wage slavery. That's what we want.

Everything has to be done to ensure that such a situation can be created and develop. If this aim is given up, then the decision of September 1, 1985 has no meaning. In the end, it will look like a minor complaint. Generally speaking, we do not want to have a situation in the Party where the key people, who are in one area, carry out the work, and everybody else watches them. We do not like this very much, because when the entire Party is working, when the entire Party is in step, we can get better results with a greater scope, and achieve the victory which is desired in this period.

This attitude -- that somebody else knows, somebody else is going to give the line -- is inconsistent with the decision of 1985. We are not like those who suggest that people can liberate themselves on their own in a spontaneous manner. We have a Party that has its organs, which function and make their decisions. But how is it possible that the organizations in other places do not know what the preoccupations of the Party are? They can only understand these preoccupations if they were one with us when the decision was taken in the first place. If an individual member does not become part of the work of the Party, then, given the situation, the person will cause trouble. There are times when the leadership at that level does not pay first-rate attention to the policy towards work and the training of members. In such a situation, a person could hang around for years, but would never become a communist. If we carry out our work and are not prejudicial, if we are enthusiastic and welcome everyone with the same spirit to carry out the work, if we carry out criticism and self-criticism, then if somebody doesn't want to carry out the work, he or she will not be able to hang around. But if you have some other attitude, this will happen.

Comrades, let us not leave these questions of building the Mass Party Press just to ideological stances. Let us speak openly and carry concrete summation in the course of further developing this work. On this basis, let us respond to the situation which is a turning point. We have already made the turn. We are not behind the situation. We are ahead of it. We already have implemented various aspects of the decision taken on September 1, 1985. We already have done a lot of other work, which we are summing up.

Let us march on. Time is working for us. We have initiative in our hands.

Haut de page

(To access articles individually click on the black headline.)



Website:   Email: