The Communist Party of Canada announced Nov. 28 that it will campaign on a platform for peace, jobs, democracy and sovereignty in the coming federal election, now expected on Jan. 23. The party will be running approximately 20 candidates across the country, leaders said.

“The corporations that dominate Canada want a majority pro-business government that will limit the ability of working people to pressure Parliament on crucial issues,” said CPC leader Miguel Figueroa. “We believe that the best outcome would be to reject the big business parties, and to elect more MPs committed to progressive policies, including Communists.”

The unusual election was triggered by a no-confidence vote Nov. 28 that toppled the minority government of Prime Minister Paul Martin, leader of the Liberal Party, whose administration has been mired in a corruption scandal. As a result of the no-confidence vote, all 308 seats in the lower House of Commons are up for election.

The Communists said they will stress that the “real scandal” in the country is the deepening social and economic crisis engulfing millions of Canadians: “the outrageous growth of poverty (especially among women, children and Aboriginal peoples), the recent huge job losses for workers in industry, the privatization of Medicare and social programs, and the rapid erosion of Canadian sovereignty.”

“Under both Liberal and Tory governments, the gains fought for by workers in earlier decades are being wiped out,” said the CPC’s election message. “Nearly two decades of ‘free trade’ have widened the gap between the wealthy elite and working people. Annual corporate profits have skyrocketed past a record $200 billion, while homelessness grows and almost one-fifth of our children live in poverty. Nearly 1.5 million workers are jobless, and two-thirds do not qualify for unemployment insurance. For millions of people, especially youth, the harsh reality is part time, casual, temporary, low-paid and even dangerous work.”

The Communist campaign calls for a wide-ranging set of new policies to put people’s needs before corporate greed, including an industrial strategy to create jobs by rebuilding manufacturing and secondary industry; a shorter work week with no loss in take-home pay; jobless pay for all unemployed workers; a massive public housing construction program; withdrawal from NAFTA and nationalization of the oil and gas industry and other energy resources; and defense and expansion of Medicare and a universal publicly run child care program.

The party also advocates an independent foreign policy of peace and disarmament, including withdrawal of Canadian forces from Haiti and Afghanistan; the elimination of undemocratic security state laws; proportional representation; and recognition of the national rights of Aboriginal peoples and Quebec.

“A vote for the Communist Party is a vote to put people first and for real measures to curb the power of the transnational corporations,” said Figueroa. “Ours is the only party in this election to put forward an explicitly anti-monopoly platform, and that speaks openly about the socialist alternative to this ruinous system of capitalism.

“This is the message we will take to millions of people on the streets, at all-candidate meetings, through the media, and on our web site, which attracted over 1 million hits during the 2004 federal election,” he said. “We believe that our policies will win a positive response from working people looking for a way out of the crisis caused by big business domination of Canadian society.

“Communists will campaign hard to help block the big business parties and to shift the balance of forces in Parliament, as part of the larger struggle to build the mass fightback of the working class and democratic movements,” Figueroa said. “We call upon all working people to mobilize around these objectives in this crucial campaign.”