By Justin Millerson
Communist Party of Canada candidate and party leader Miguel Figueroa sends one message to voters in Davenport: The fundamental structure of our government needs to change.
“Ultimately, we need to open the debate about capitalism it’s self and the alternative to capitalism, which is socialism,” says Figueroa, whose been party leader since 1992. “There are certainly local concerns, but I think working people in Davenport are facing many of the same concerns that confront working people right across the country.”
Figueroa believes traditional governments have repeatedly squandered the public’s purse.
“The problem is not a lack of resources,” the 34-year party member says. “The problem stems from the priorities of the federal and provincial government and their idiotic frame work which is essentially to promote the interest of monopoly, of big business and that somehow there will be a
trickle down effect in terms of broader social benefit, and life has shown that that is not at all the case.”
Figueroa says the proposed corporate tax cuts are an example of the false hope current government offers people. He says corporate tax rates came down considerably in the last five years of the Harper government, with the idea to create more jobs for Canadians.
But Figueroa says the cuts diverted the nation’s wealth.
“This argument of lowering tax rates increases job creation is false,” he says. “The big corporations and the banks have taken all of those additional billions of dollars in taxes that would have gone into the public’s purse, that would have been used for housing, used for environmental research and development, to be used for child care, etc.”
The Communist Party aims to reform the entire country’s political model, including updating the Canadian Constitution. Figueroa believes Canada is a multi-national country and the constitution fails to recognize it.
“Essentially, we have English Canada, Quebec Canada, which is a nation, and certainly the aboriginal peoples and their nations, the first peoples of this country who have been victimized,” Figueroa says. “We think that the recognition of both Quebec as a nation and the national rights of the aboriginal people as well, need to be codified in a new constitution.”
He also says that it’s important for municipalities to have a role in the constitution. The Montreal native says municipalities are now just creations of provincial governments but the role of cities has changed dramatically since the constitution was first passed in 1867.
With socialism comes social services and the Communist Party wants to use nationalization of industries as a tool to control the economy and provide better services.
Figueroa wants to nationalize the country’s pharmaceutical industry which he believes would save significant dollars in a currently under-funded health care system.
“One of the biggest contributors to the increase of cost is the cost of drugs and the private pharmaceutical companies are making a killing,” he says. “Pharmaceuticals get a higher rate of return on their investment than even the banks and oil companies do.”
Nationalized banks, energy and child care is also on the agenda for the Communist Party as well as the eventual move to abolish post secondary tuition fees.
These services cost money however, so how does a government pay for this? Figueroa argues the wealth already exists.
“The wealth exists in spades,” says Figueroa.
He is in favour of cutting the military budget by 75 per cent which would mean Canada would not participate in what he describes as wars of aggression and occupancy, as well as leaving the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Figueroa says the moves would save billions each year.
In addition, the Communist Party also wants a doubling in corporate tax rates, a mirror opposite to the Harper plan.
This year, the Communist Party of Canada is celebrating its 90th anniversary, but despite its longevity, the 19-year leader sees there is still a disconnect between how people see communism and what socialism offers.
“Part of this is the legacy of McCarthyism, you go right back to the 50s, the cold war mentality,” he says. “There still is a lot of anti-socialist propaganda, that somehow we are anti-democratic. I think if anybody actually looks at our party’s history, they will see we are a party that has consistently stood for the expansion for democratic rights.”
“We are a party deeply committed to the democratic rights of the people,” he says.
For more on Figueroa, you can visit http://www.votecommunist.ca/miguel-figueroa-party-leader/