Trade union bars working class candidate from federal election forum

A working class candidate with a lifelong record as an active supporter of trade union rights will not be allowed to take part in a federal election candidates forum being held in the riding of Vancouver Kingsway.

Kimball Cariou is the candidate for the Communist Party of Canada, running for the fifth consecutive time in the east Vancouver constituency. Cariou grew up as the son of a railway worker and an office worker, with his family origins among the European immigrant and Metis peoples of the Prairies. From 1993 until his recent retirement from full-time work, he was the editor of People’s Voice, the socialist newspaper published in Vancouver. He has been active for many years in anti-war and solidarity movements.

Unfortunately, the PSAC (Public Service Alliance of Canada) Vancouver & District Area Council has refused to allow Cariou to take part in its forum, which takes place 7-9 pm, Tuesday, Sept. 17, at Collingwood Neighbourhood House, 5288 Joyce St., Vancouver.

In four previous elections (2006, 2008, 2011, 2015) Kimball Cariou has spoken at inclusive all-candidate forums at Collingwood organized by the local community group. He is shocked that a trade union body would arbitrarily limit participation in this event to candidates of just four parties – the Liberals, Conservatives, Greens and NDP.

Two basic reasons were given for Cariou’s exclusion. The first is that allowing more than four candidates to take part would limit the number of questions each candidate could answer, so the Area Council wants to hear from “the four major parties that have the most influence over our living and working conditions.” The Area Council also argues that inviting any other candidates would force is to open the event to “a newer party that has troubling far-right nationalist values.”

Making a final appeal to the PSAC Area Council, Cariou wrote, “I have to express my profound disappointment that the Canadian political party with the longest record of defending the rights of trade unionists and all working people will be prevented from taking part in the Sept. 17 forum. Ever since our formation in 1921, members and leaders of the Communist Party of Canada have spoken out strongly for the interests of the working class in this country, in our communities, on the shop floor, at labour conventions, on the picket lines, from jail cells, and yes, on some occasions when they were elected to Parliament, provincial legislatures, or local governments. From this perspective, our party has exerted an enormous and highly positive influence over the living and working conditions of the working class, for nearly a full century.”

Cariou says the Area Council’s undemocratic argument “is simply a repetition of the corporate media’s position that certain parties should be ignored during election campaigns.” He points out that “just to give an example, the Vancouver Sun has refused to ever include my name in its listings of candidates in Vancouver Kingsway.”

He adds that “We understand very well that far-right, racist, fascist, homophobic, transphobic, misogynist, anti-labour forces are seeking to gain influence during this election. It would be quite understandable for PSAC to refuse to offer a platform for such parties and candidates. What is not understandable is that … the Communist Party is being put into the same category as these dangerous and violent enemies of the working class.”

Cariou has told Area Council that “it is not too late to change the format to invite all parties and candidates who are not fundamentally opposed to the working class.”

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