James Chumsa, candidate for the Communist Party of Canada, talks to potential voters at a candidates’ meet-and-greet prior to a debate at Vancouver Island University last Thursday. (GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin)

Communist candidate on the ballot in Nanaimo-Ladysmith

VIU student James Chumsa running for Communist Party of Canada

Other parties’ socialist policies don’t go far enough for the Communist Party of Canada.

Last week, the party put forward James Chumsa as a federal election candidate in Nanaimo-Ladysmith.

Communist Party leader Elizabeth Rowley was in Nanaimo last Thursday for Chumsa’s campaign launch. She said a lot of people are $200 away from serious financial trouble and said that reality, as well as problems like the climate crisis, are caused by capitalism.

“People are saying, ‘it’s not working for me, I can’t get ahead, I can barely keep my head above water, and maybe there’s something wrong with capitalism. Maybe I should be looking at something else,’” Rowley said.

The Communist Party wants universal dental care, long-term care, mental health care and pharmacare, as Rowley said expanding health care will be “cheaper in the long run.” The party wants taxpayer-funded childcare and post-secondary education, higher minimum wages and pensions, and a million new units of social housing over the next 10 years.

Regarding free tuition, Rowley said the current system relies on universities “absolutely milking” international students and students are ending up with “enormous” debts.

“We need a highly educated workforce in Canada to handle AI and tech changes and so on, so if we were to provide free post-secondary education to students who have the marks and the interest, if we were to eliminate existing student debt, if we were to pay students a stipend to cover their living cost while they’re studying, it’s a pretty good payday in terms of return on investment,” she said. “We’d have a very highly educated workforce and we’d have an educated population, unlike our friends to the south. People believe all kinds of crap because they don’t know any better.”

RELATED: Nanaimo-Ladysmith candidates keep climate at forefront of first debate

The Communist Party wants to raise corporate taxes and greatly reduce defence spending.

“The Communist Party is a party that’s committed to peace and disarmament, reducing Canada’s military budget by 75 per cent and using that money to invest in public services such as housing, free education, better health care, free transit, stuff like that,” Chumsa said.

The recent VIU sociology grad is now a continuing student at the university and said while his first election campaign will be a “big learning experience,” he’s excited about trying to speak for his end of the political spectrum.

“The amount of far-right parties in the last election motivated me to run for the Communist Party, which is a party that is anti-fascist, anti-racist and for socialism,” Chumsa said.

Rowley said she thinks the best outcome of this general election would be a minority government in which neither the Liberals nor the Conservatives have a majority, to “prevent the worst parts of their platforms from being implemented” and allow the public and “progressive” parties to have more sway.

She said people like the Communist Party’s ideas, but are hesitant to vote for small parties in a first-past-the-post electoral system.

“Whether we elect them in this election or the next election, we are out to elect people,” Rowley said. “We also want to put these ideas, these policies, before the public.”

The general election is Oct. 21, with advance voting Oct. 11-14. Other Nanaimo-Ladysmith candidates include Paul Manly, Green Party; John Hirst, Conservatives; Bob Chamberlin, NDP; Michelle Corfield, Liberals; Jennifer Clarke, People’s Party of Canada; Brian Marlatt, Progressive Canadian Party; and Geoff Stoneman, independent.

RELATED: Nanaimo-Ladysmith candidates try to chart a path to victory

RELATED: Federal election campaign underway in Nanaimo-Ladysmith

RELATED: Nanaimo-Ladysmith candidates question-and-answer



editor@nanaimobulletin.com

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