By Nathan Dyck
Do you want to vote in the upcoming provincial election for a radical left-wing party? Amid a sea of weak-kneed, pseudo-leftist groups like the New Democrats is the Communist Party of Canada. Jason Devine, Communist candidate in Calgary East, is an ambitious 20-year-old socialist who ran for federal office in November, also in the riding of Calgary East, and managed to pick off 152 out of 33,552 votes.
According to Devine, this is more support than any other Communist candidate has ever received in a Calgary riding.
"More than anything, the party is running candidates in Calgary to get the word out to the electors that the party exists. We’re trying to introduce our policy and dispel some commonly exploited myths about Communism," says Devine. "The voice of socialism is not very big in Alberta, but the sources of this voice should be able to feel justified in casting their vote for a party that truly represents their beliefs."
The Communist Party’s platform is built around "five vital planks of vital significance to Albertans." One point of the platform states that the party, if elected, would heftily increase taxes for "the rich" and "corporations." Devine believes that this sort of policy is entirely feasible because Alberta businesses depend upon natural resources and a large labour force.
"Businesses in Alberta owe a huge debt to the communities surrounding them," he said. "In the short term, high taxes will hurt these corporations, but in the long run, everyone under a Communist government wins."
Also included in the Communist platform is a pledge to completely eradicate post-secondary tuition. Devine explains that this policy is a result of two fundamental beliefs: that young people are the future of our economy and that education for profit is wrong. Critics of such a system argue that making post-secondary education cost-free would vastly reduce the overall quality of instruction, among other things, because of the lack of qualified individuals to teach such a large number of people.
Devine disagreed with this argument.
"All we need to do to attract more teachers is make it easier for them to enter the profession," he said. "It’s like if the population says, ‘We need more doctors’, there’s going to be a removal of artificial barriers such as the high cost of professional education, so that more people can enter the labour force. That’s exactly what the Communist party intends to do."
Having grown up in a family that was financially disadvantaged, Devine claims to have witnessed first hand the absolute failure of 30 years of provincial government by the Progressive Conservative Party. As a child he often had to visit food banks to avoid starving and these experiences fueled his fiery passion on issues of social equality and governmental elitism. He sees food banks and similar charities as a slap in the face.
"Charity is not the right way to go; we need to promote self-empowerment. Ralph Klein claims that power deregulation has benefits for everyone. Fuck that! This year, food banks are servicing more people in every single level of our society. This increase is a great index of the supposed success of the Conservatives’ ‘Alberta Advantage.’"
Calgary East is the only riding in Calgary where a Communist candidate is running, so not everyone will be able to throw their support behind the party. However, Devine made it clear that socialism is on the rise in Calgary. In his mind, the key is to bring together different movement such as the Communists, the Marxist-Leninists and the New Democrats.
"The political left wing in Canada is severely splintered. We keep hearing about the ‘Unite the Right,’ but I think that what we really need is a ‘Unite the Left’ movement. That’s when we’ll start making real progress."