I have resigned from the Communist Party of Canada
In 2020 a prominent Communist Party of Canada member reached out to me. They had seen my application sent in a couple years prior regarding my membership (after offering to drive to Toronto for an interview in 2018, they never responded) and if I would like to join other applicants in forming a club for Kingston, Ontario, where I resided at the time. I jumped at the chance. I’ve never been that deep into organizing, my combined personality of independence and social anxiety meant that most things I had done in activism were spontaneous or solo. More often than not, this approach failed to yield results. I met some great comrades, reconnected with old acquaintances and with the help of this comrade and the Rosa Luxemburg Club of Ottawa, we set to work.
It was around that time that I saw someone on a Facebook group say that the CPC leadership had covered up the sexual abuse of themselves and a friend by a member. I messaged them to get the details. What they said shook me to my core. I asked around to people in the party who seemed to have answers. The most I got was along the lines of “This was investigated and the claims weren’t found credible.” I didn’t fully accept this answer, but every member I had met at that point was of great character. They were good people and good organizers (they still are). I pushed down this feeling of disgust and promised myself that if I ever learned of anything along these lines. I would do my best to hold the offending and complicit actors to account. If I had any say in the matter, I would not let this happen again.
This person and I interacted again about a month ago about some separate political issue. They brought up that I remained in the party after they told me about their abuse and that I couldn’t be trusted. I almost left right then. How can I justify staying? They were right. Regardless of the level of veracity, people were hurt. This coincided with massive personal life changes that disallowed me from engaging with activism and organizing. Mental health, physical health, location, money troubles, school work loads and the ongoing pandemic. I took a mental health break from the Party. When I returned for the campaign, I was unable to help my club due to another, new health problem. But I saw the material results of meeting people where they are, giving them answers to capitalist problems, and above all, listening.
I had planned to be in Toronto on June 18th for a separate function with my partner’s friend, so when I heard the Ontario Convention would take place then, I thought that, since I was going to be in the city anyway, I would put my name forward to be a delegate. The other delegate had been overworked in their career in the past month. I told him that I would happily take the lion’s share of the work. He had done enough, and I wanted my first convention ever to be a learning experience, but one that taught every other delegate where I, and by extension the Tim Buck Club, stood on principled issues. When I saw Jack’s post on June 16th I was immediately outraged. I had never met Jay, and I think the most interaction I had with Jack was intermittently between internet memes on Twitter. But this does not matter. I could have been best friends with Jay and my reaction would have been the same. Shame, disgust, outrage, betrayal. The list goes on. Something needed to be done. Through luck, I was in a position to do something.
I discussed the issue with my club organizer, who said that there would probably be an emergency resolution along the lines of establishing an independent body to review code of conduct violations by party members and make recommendations to the CEC to be publicly available for all members. This, in conjunction with other clubs I had seen stress the need for a sexual misconduct protocol, would be enough to make the best of a terrible situation. I had no idea if other clubs had drafted this resolution for an internal review body, so I suggested the TBC do so. I drafted a letter and resolution which was then voted on in the club group chat. Some members abstained as they were unaware of the developments, but the majority of the club approved the letter and resolution with reformed, less harsh, language. Jay’s expulsion was non-negotiable, and no comrade argued against it. We sent it on the 17th.
I pushed for resignations of CEC members involved and for them not to be part of the CEC in the future. This was taken seriously by my club, but they argued that we needed to wait until after the Ontario Convention to concretely decide. Information was still coming out, and they did not want to act out of instinct. I disagreed with their stance, and I still do, however I respect their positions and the concept of democratic centralism. They knew where I stood, and I would not give up the fight, but until it was revisited, I would uphold the decision of the club at convention. I had also been in contact with CPC members in different clubs who were similarly outraged as I was. I made no secret of this, and there’s nothing wrong with literally just talking with other CPC members about party business. Despite my personal feelings and these connections outside of the club, I made my arguments internally, measured statements externally, and upheld the decisions as decided upon by the club.
The morning of the convention, Jack released a new statement, claiming that the CEC had broken the constitution in three separate ways: by not informing the Parkdale Club of Jay’s expulsion, by violating the terms of Jay not having contact with YCL members by overseeing a meeting of YCL members at the CPC office, and by implicating Nigel Cheriyan and Micah Herron without proper investigation. This was extremely serious. Since this had dropped an hour before the convention, I informed the club, linked to the document and said this would not change me upholding the TBC line of not asking for expulsions, but that I would get answers for these breaks of the constitution.
The morning began with opening statements unrelated to the issue at hand, but an hour had been planned to discuss the situation in a closed-door session. Liz Rowley spoke, illuminating the situation from their perspective. Nothing you haven’t seen at this point, but I believe this was the first mention to Club members of so-called “factionalism,” which they provided no evidence for at the time. She then admitted that they failed to inform the Parkdale Club of Jay’s situation. Her reasoning was that she was sick at the last minute in the Ontario Report and asked Kimball Cariou of B.C to do it in her stead. He made no mention of the Jay situation. At other points in the session, Dave Mckee admitted to allowing Jay to explain his own circumstances to the Parkdale Club. Apparently Jay said that he was suspended for three months and censured. No mention of why he faced these consequences, his forbidden contact with YCL, or his requirement for a three month rehabilitation program for his alcoholism. Dave had failed to correct him. Ivan Byard spoke to the YCL situation, saying the YCL members called to the office were meant to meet downstairs, but mistakenly went upstairs while he had gone out for supplies. Jay was working there at the time. Upon returning to the office, Ivan corralled them downstairs, took Jack’s complaint and passed it on. All three of them apologized for their failures.
I will not speak to what other delegates said during the session to protect their privacy. Calls for a sexual misconduct policies were made, disgust was voiced, and the room was filled with disappointment. But one speaker had said that they were unaware of the situation, and that they had been out with Jay drinking with YCL members within the past two months, had they known, they would have pulled Jay aside to call him out, or simply not attend. The CEC was unaware, and made note.
In the middle of all of this, I went in front of the room to speak.
I echoed calls for accountability and brought up the letter from the Tim Buck Club. In this letter, we stated that the entire process reeked of disrespect for victims of sexual abuse. Whether intentionally or not, the power dynamics and refusal to accept the trauma that needs to be re-experienced to recount the abuse was clear as day. I also mentioned the proposal that TBC made to amend the situation, which needed to be discussed by the Party at some point, as it had apparently not qualified for discussion at this convention. Then, I addressed the constitutional breaks.
I remember clearly saying how I appreciated admitting fault, but admitting fault does not rectify the fact that the constitution was broken in multiple places and as a result, people had been hurt. I declared that whatever we, as a Party, choose to do after this would be settled on democratically. But we need to grapple with the question of whether or not the CEC broke the constitution. This was not up for debate. While I personally wanted everyone involved to resign and not return to positions of power, I did not voice this.
At the end of the discussion (which had run for two hours instead of one), Liz made closing remarks, stating she had made notes of concerns and would like to address them. She spoke to a sexual misconduct policy and investigating Jay’s recent drinking with YCL members.
There was absolutely no mention of my concerns about the CEC breaking the constitution.
I was shocked. I was enraged, but they had poisoned the well. There was a faction brewing, comrades. Anyone who wanted to remove the CEC was a conspirator. I remember approaching Liz Rowley at the end, asking if there would be online observers to the National Convention, she told me that hadn’t decided yet. I shook her hand to be friendly. Apparently I’m a good liar too, because I haven’t been even remotely led to believe I was being investigated for factionalism since then, despite passionately arguing for their resignations, and publicly voicing my distaste for the way this was handled.
The rage didn’t subside. On Sunday, the TBC agreed to an emergency meeting to discuss the situation and the convention the next day on the 20th. Despite my need for money, I couldn’t go into work on Monday. The stress in my stomach alone had incapacitated me. I took this time to write a statement I would read to the club that night. I’ve attached most of it at the end of this. For those not inclined to read, salient points are: their blatant refusal to admit they broke the constitution, their inability to monitor stipulations set out for Jay, the reality that party members do not have easy access to info on who leads the party, and their anti-constitutional use of “factionalism.” I spoke more after what I wrote, proposing we dissolve the club and every member resign. I cried while giving my statement, specifically when I apologized to anyone who was here because of me. Tears of guilt, anger, and devastation.
After this, my proposal was not accepted. Not because the disappointment and rage was not felt by every member in attendance, but because some believed if they left the party they would give up the fight and/or some believed accountability would still come at the convention on the July 1st weekend. I didn’t blame them. I still don’t. But I told them not to be surprised if I don’t stick around until then.
The developments since that meeting have only seemed to re-enforce my position. Nigel and Micah were suspended from the YCL, in a manner against the YCL constitution. Q. Anthony Omene was declared to be the leader of the “faction”, implying he’s a government agent. The CEC expelled four members of the CPC that I had talked to directly for “factionalism” and yet didn’t cite the Constitutional definition. Members had filed charges against Liz Rowley, which were ignored. The power-hungry, careerist leeches had a stranglehold. They wiped their ass with the constitution and democratic centralism, while sycophants watched and cheered at the expulsion of people voicing criticism a liiiiiittle too loudly. Those among us who kept their feelings in internal channels were bound by a principle that the CEC had shit on. This all led to my increasingly antagonistic public statements. These principles are tools, if a tool is not respected, it is a dangerous weapon to be wielded, and can’t be combated by playing nice. “They go low, we go high” is for liberals.
If the CEC is not made to resign and not re-enter nominations, the party will be unsalvageable. Calls for structural reform are necessary as well, but structural changes added to a controlling body above reproach means nothing. You cannot add a prosthetic limb without amputating the gangrenous, necrotic flesh that’s consumed the arm. It doesn’t matter how good the prosthetic is, or how dangerous the amputation procedure may seem, if not addressed appropriately that infection will spread to the heart. The organs will fail. The party will collapse into the grave.
I’ve upheld democratic centralism in my personal and public life to my internal detriment. For those who know me, I am a staunch advocate for working class gun rights. I believe that this can appropriately be balanced with methods to lower gun violence that go outside the capitalist framework. The CPC believes capitalist gun control to be good. The ignorance for a communist party to not align with Mao, Marx and Lenin on this point is beyond words. This and the refusal to use the term “settler-colonial” in the program were two of the many problems I had with this party that came into focus in recent weeks. These were two problems I had kept quiet about.
I apologize to Jack, to all victims of sexual abuse from CPC members and to the person who tried to warn me. I apologize for allowing this to go on while being a member. I doubt the unnamed person would even see this apology, let alone accept it, which they have no obligation to do. To message them with this would just be to soothe my own soul and this isn’t about my guilty conscience. This is about holding people to account.
The events of the past two weeks have destroyed any credibility that the Communist Party of Canada and its members have worked tirelessly to build. I know people personally who have sacrificed their mental health, financial security, free AND paid time to help build the path to socialism. I did all those things. I’m writing and pitching articles, recording podcasts, making YouTube videos, organizing, working full-time, going to University, dealing with OSAP, finding affordable lodgings between cities, dealing with mental stress from the ongoing and worsening pandemic, dedicating time to my partner whom I love dearly and still tried to be a good CPC member. Between this I have spent hundreds of dollars on necessary medical procedures so that I’m not constantly in pain. On June 22nd I was informed I would need to repay CERB in some fashion and my hard drive with all my hard work on podcasts, music and videos may be beyond saving. I never realized how much I was pushing myself until this moment where I’m writing it all out. I am hanging on by a thread, and I still want to give more to the cause. I truly believe capitalism will kill us all if it’s not stopped soon.
Unfortunately, the CEC doesn’t see it that way. They see this as an attack on their livelihood and egos. They’ve shown themselves to be nothing but ratfuckers. Corrupt, selfish opportunists who would rather implode a body for socialist advancement than admit their faults. This disgrace is a slap in the face to all of us, but especially members of the LGBTQ2S+ community, racialized people and women most at risk of being victims of sexual predators, or smear campaigns.
To all remaining members of the Communist Party of Canada, I have no problem with the vast majority of you who are concerned about the situation. If you believe the convention and its delegates will make the right decision to make the CEC face consequences, are deeply hurt by the situation as a whole, and want to respect Jack and all other victims of sexual abuse, I disagree fervently with your conclusion, but I do not hold ill will to you. I have spoken to many comrades respectfully with this disagreement. However, for those of you like Dock Currie who defend the CEC to the hilt, mock Jack’s abuse, and/or defend Jay, fuck off back to your sewers.
I was raised by two amazing parents and by punk music. These two combined into a need to do good, despite the consequences. Punk music lead me to socialism, which led me to communism. I have read as much as I can to weigh the decisions of historical figures and movements, to criticize as well as understand, but to never defend acts which are indefensible. When Castro’s treatment of the LGBTQ+ community is discussed, we can acknowledge his apology and means to make amends, but we cannot excuse the systemic oppression.
So with this in mind. I have one last statement to make. With all due respect, which is none, to the CEC, who will no doubt get the gist of this from one of their sycophants, I have a request:
Go fuck yourselves.
Speech to the Tim Buck Club on Monday, June 22 about Sexual Misconduct developments:
Comrades, in case it wasn’t clear, I am absolutely livid at this situation.
I believe, given the case of Jeremy Fisher in Saskatoon and his immediate expulsion from the party, that the decision to suspend, censure, preclude interactions with the YCL and require treatment were insufficient consequences for Jay. Expulsion should have occurred immediately, any other consequences are, in my view, a failure. The issue also arises of holding Jay to account. The CEC instituted a requirement that he enroll in a three month program for rehabilitation. Those of us here who know struggles with addiction are aware that an imposed three months is woefully insufficient. But beyond that, since no other comrades were warned of the situation, they engaged in drinking with Jay alongside YCL members. If Jack had not made this public, would they have ever been made aware? What mechanisms were in place to assure compliance? I see none. Further to this, questions of enforcement, transparency, and consistency have not been freely available to clubs, as we discussed last week.
Briefly, on claims of factionalism, which they offered no evidence for, Article 11 of the Disciplinary Procedure defines factionalism as the following: “a group which advocates a political line different from or opposed to that decided by the Convention or the respective responsible Party committee, and which agrees formally or otherwise to an internal discipline standing above that of the Party.” Unless this group is exposed and proven to be rallying around a political line in contradiction to the Party, this sounds like a distraction to me, and immaterial to the discussion.
I will address the first two questions of constitutional breaches, and though I will not delve into the details of the third, I personally believe their decision to spread contested info about those close to Jack in the party and their choice to spread the full name of a sexual harassment victim internally to Party members is a dangerous and reckless attempt to save face regardless of constitutionality.
Firstly, the issue of whether or not the Parkdale Club was informed is clear cut. None of the people who shared a club with Jay outside the higher bodies were informed of his dangerous, predatory behaviour, merely that he was suspended. Why is the privacy of a documented and proven sexual predator prioritized over the safety of fellow club members? Which of us would allow a man who sexually harassed someone twenty years younger than them to explain their own consequences to club members? Undeniably, this is a breach of the constitution, which Liz and Dave admitted to, in full view of the convention.
Secondly, if they admit that YCL members were called to the building where Jay works, I do not care whether they were supposed to be upstairs or not. None of us here would ever want to be in the same building as our abusers, especially under the watch of a trusted entity. The fact that this happened and no consequences arose is appalling, the fact that this happened under the watch of CEC members who instituted those restrictions, in the head offices of the CPC, is beyond description. Another undeniable breach of the constitution.
I asked the Convention, in front of Liz, Drew, Dave and Ivan to grapple with, and answer the question of breaking the Constitution. Liz’s closing remarks made no mention of this. I believe this means they are aware of the violations. The CEC will not address the question of whether they broke the constitution, because they know the answer. They cannot deny breaches, and they don’t want to admit to them for fear of repercussions. This, comrades, is holding leaders above the reproach of the party. This is serious.
In the document Jack released of these claims, they called for three things:
- All the members of the CEC to resign from the Central committee.
- All the current members of the CEC to withdraw their candidacy for Central Committee elections at the 2022 Convention
- New, eligible members to put forward their candidacy for the Central Committee, so a new CEC can be chosen.
I see no reason why these claims should be in debate. None.
The CEC broke the constitution twice, they know it, and they want to hide this fact under apologies for negligence and cries of factionalism.
Comrades, I believe the Tim Buck Club should echo Jack’s calls.
I have been reviewing the Constitution, and there are other, more serious matters that we can also discuss. Article 11, Section three, states: “Charges against any elected Party committee shall be made in writing to the committee being charged, to all members of the committee, and to the next higher body. Notice of motion must be given to all members of the committee being charged and the higher Party body that a proposal concerning disciplinary action will be placed before the next meeting.”
Whether or not we pursue this charge made me wonder, does every club member here know who is on the Central Committee or the Central Executive Committee? If this is not easily accessible for members, then we don’t even know who we would serve this to, unless we contacted a known member of the CC or the CEC, or asked our organizer.
Comrades, this is a crisis within the party, and I believe the CEC is choosing a siege mentality to protect their claims to power, rather than follow the constitution and adequately atone for their actions. The Party’s reputation is in ruin. If we do not pursue consequences, then we are allowing that ruin to turn into collapse. We cannot be the party that protects sexual predators.