1) EDMONTON DAILY REPORTS ON COMMUNIST CAMPAIGN IN ALBERTA
Since our previous issue was published, another Communist candidate has entered Alberta's April 16 election campaign, bringing the total to four - the highest number of Communists on the ballot in Alberta since the 1980s.
The CP-Alberta is also getting some media attention, including coverage in the Edmonton Star by reporter Kevin Maimann, who interviewed party leader Naomi Rankin on April 4, campaigning in the Strathcona riding where she is among ten candidates on the ballot.
The Star article notes that Rankin is the longest-serving political party leader in Alberta, holding the position since 1992. Born into a radical political family (including her uncle Harry, the long-time Vancouver city councillor) she joined the Communist Party in 1981. Rankin told the reporter that she strives for “qualitative change” by bringing the party’s message to progressive groups at protests and other events, and encouraging like-minded people to unite under the Communist banner.
She told Maimann about a recent gay-straight alliance rally, organized to protest a United Conservative Party platform point that would scrap Bill 24 and let teachers “out” kids to their parents, as one of many examples of Albertans mobilizing for inclusive social change.
“I don’t see the situation that people are static, or passive, or asleep, at all,” Rankin said.
The article presents some history about the role of Communists in Alberta and across Canada, including the struggle during the 1990s against Conservative legislation which automatically deregistered smaller parties which ran fewer than 50 candidates and seized their assets. It was a battle the Communists won 10 years later in the Supreme Court.
Rankin tells the Star that "her belief that capitalism fosters inequality and suffering as the rich get richer off the backs of workers, and her desire for a united, militant working class to smash that paradigm, have never wavered."
In this campaign, she is joined by candidate Alex Boykowich in Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood, Andrew Janewski in Edmonton-Mill Woods, and Jonathan Troutman in Calgary-East.
Janewski, who is 20 years old, left the NDP to join the Communist Party, which he considers the only one with adequate strategies to fight poverty and climate change.
As a Young Communist League member, Janewski works with the Edmonton Coalition Against War and Racism, anti-fascist movements, and labour groups. He believes that the party will gain votes and strength in the period ahead, telling the Star, "people are going to become radicalized when the way that they are living their lives is being threatened by climate change, and so they’ll start listening to more radical alternatives when that happens."
The Communist Party-Alberta campaign literature specifically targets oil and gas workers, sympathizing with concerns over losing their jobs and exclaiming that they don’t have to “wear a yellow vest” and rail against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“The answer to unemployment is ... full employment!” the leaflet reads. “It can be done! There is life after pipelines!”
The party promises to put oil sector workers to build renewable energy and transportation systems, retrofit buildings, and clean up environmental degradation like abandoned oilwells and tailings ponds left behind by oil companies.
“It drives me crazy. The NDP and the UCP both walked into this in a petty squabble about which of them would be best at building a pipeline," Rankin says. "Well, the whole pipeline is just a white elephant. It’s not unreasonable to expect that by the time it’s built, or within a few years of it being built, that we just simply can’t sell that junk (fossil fuels) anymore. We should be starting today building things in our economy that can last, that can provide ongoing employment, not just a little blip of employment during a construction period.”
The Alberta Communists' 2019 platform also includes free post-secondary education, rent controls and more affordable social housing, expanded public health care and child care, a minimum-wage increase and a 32-hour work week. The party would double the corporate tax rate, and eliminate taxes entirely on incomes under $35,000 a year.
Rankin laments the anger and intense partisanship being stoked this election cycle, particularly the way some have turned that anger against immigrants and the LGBTQ community rather than the mostly foreign-owned corporations controlling our resources.
She feels it’s only a matter of time before Albertans reach their boiling point and explore more radical alternatives to the status quo.
“I think this is a symptom of end-stage capitalism. The whole capitalist system just doesn’t have many options for people. Everyone’s feeling that their possibilities are narrowing. They’re insecure,” Rankin says. “Once people break out of the straitjacket of thinking that capitalism is eternal and capitalism is the only possible system, suddenly whole vistas of possibilities open up. They don’t have to feel that fear. They don’t have to feel that life is just getting smaller and meaner.”
(The above article is from the April 16-30, 2019, issue of People's Voice, Canada's leading socialist newspaper. Articles can be reprinted free if the source is credited. Subscription rates in Canada: $30/year, or $15 low income rate; for U.S. readers - $45 US per year; other overseas readers - $45 US or $50 CDN per year. Send to People's Voice, c/o PV Business Manager, 706 Clark Drive, Vancouver, BC, V5L 3J1.)