Are you considering voting for the Conservative Party in this upcoming federal election? If so, local Marxist-Leninist candidate Allan Bezanson is curious to know: “Are you nuts?”
This 67-year-old anti-war activist and founding member of the No Harbour for War organization isn’t wasting his time on Harper enthusiasts. But he isn’t spending his campaign time insisting Canadians vote for the Marxist-Leninist party, either.
Running in the Halifax riding alongside NDP incumbent Megan Leslie, Conservative candidate Irvine Carvery, Liberal challenger Andy Fillmore and Green Party hopeful Thomas Trappenberg, Bezanson is entirely aware he won’t be winning a seat in parliament this year.
Though not invited to some all-candidate events and ignored by most local media outlets, Bezanson has been working passionately to motivate citizens to participate in Canada’s democratic system. Through organizing informational pickets and taking part in worker and student lobby groups, the six-time MP contender is focusing on citizens who may feel their voices—or their votes—don’t matter.
“I encourage all voters to get out there and to defeat Harper,” says Bezanson. He and his party extend this encouragement not just to those fighting against Harper, but to all marginalized individuals working towards equity, at any time. “We will support you and march shoulder to shoulder with you,” he says, “and lend the assistance we can to your struggles.”
Defeating the “Harper regime” means tackling voter apathy, Bezanson says. “To not vote is to vote for Harper.
“It’s very much in Harper’s interest to have people disenfranchised, disempowered, listless, apathetic,” he adds. “People have to have an outlook that it’s the voters that are the decision-makers in this country.”
Bezanson’s rigorously Communist standpoint has always focused on regular citizens—not on politicians—as the most important agents of change.
“The working class should be the decision makers in this country,” he says, calling for what he describes as “total democratic reform.
“It’s the women, the students, our aboriginal allies, the workers that must chart a forward direction for our economy, for our environment and everything.”
Imagine, he warns, a future full of the ‘governmental oppression’ coming from the Harper government. Bezanson says it will be more of the same unless Canadians take up the day-to-day politics of struggle where they work, study and live.
“If you decide to do nothing, there will be more Bill C-51s,” he says, “more security legislations; there’ll be more bombing.”
Bezanson often protests alongside students with the aim to lower post-secondary tuition fees and replace student loans with grants. In these circles, Bezanson says he experiences anything but apathy.
The Marxist-Leninist party calls for the complete abolishment of tuition. This value is encompassed by the party’s slogan to “stop paying the rich, increase funding for social programs.”
Incredibly impressed with the tenacity of student groups in working towards this goal, Bezanson wants them to know that they have the support of his party.
“Our rights are being destroyed, but they should be inherent by virtue of being human. We support students when they’re fighting for their rights, and my goodness, they are right now,” Bezanson says.
“They’re going at it tooth and nail, and we will always support that."