Expulsion of the Montreal and Valleyfield Cells of the Revolutionary Communist Party

Note: In the following document, reference is made to Montreal branches of mass organizations alongside the RCP cell in Montreal. Insofar as the old-ideas clique rejects the mass line and the role of independent mass organizations, it should be understood that it is more-or-less the same people in the MER Montreal, MRO Montreal, FFPR Montreal, Red Youth Front, the Montreal RCP cell, and the Quebec District leadership. Thus, while it would not make sense to, for instance, criticize the actions of the RSM in Ottawa when criticizing the RCP in Ottawa, in Montreal the “mass organizations” (small movements) and cell are much more directly linked than elsewhere.

It is with great sadness that the Central Committee of the Revolutionary Communist Party (PCR-RCP) announces the expulsion of the Montreal and Valleyfield cells of the PCR-RCP. While we recognize that this is a heavy-handed measure, our hand has been forced. The leadership of the Montreal cell has seized control of the Party’s website and is actively preventing communications between the Central Committee and the cells in Montreal and Valleyfield. Thus we are unable to discern to what extent the members of these cells agree support the actions of the old-ideas clique. As a result, insofar as these two cells ostensibly do not recognize the legitimacy of the Party leadership, we are left with no other choice than to expel the cells as a whole. We recognize that not all members of these cells support the obstructionist behaviour of the old-ideas clique; as we will outline below, we therefore invite any members of these cells who recognize the legitimate leadership of the Party to get in contact with us for re-admission into the Party.

We want to make clear that these expulsions are not a result of the ongoing line struggle (over the question of the mass line with subsidiary questions including proletarian feminism and the role of unions) in the Party. These expulsions are a result of organizational and procedural infractions: infractions which, if not addressed, undermine the entire party. The reason for the expulsions is as follows:

Failure to Initiate a Mandated Rectification Campaign

On March 5, the Central Committee mandated that the Montreal cell comply with a rectification campaign, intended to rectify the cell’s work. A copy of the Central Committee resolution has been included below as an addendum. Shortly after this was passed, the Montreal leadership declared the Central Committee illegitimate and has broken off communications. In this context, it has been impossible to launch the badly needed rectification campaign.

Use of Violence to Solve Political Disagreements

There has been a recent pattern of using violence towards others on the left as a means of solving political disagreements. The first incident occurred on March 4 at Maison Norman Bethune, where four supporters of the PCR-RCP attacked 3 other supporters of the PCR-RCP over the ongoing line struggle. On March 5, a member of the Central Committee was threateningly told to not go to the Maison Norman Bethune by one of the Montreal leadership. And more recently, there was the incident at Café Aquin, where two supporters of the PCR-RCP (who had already been expelled!) assaulted a barista because they were told not to poster. In each of these cases, the assailants have been totally unapologetic about their actions. We find this to be totally reprehensible conduct, and not a Maoist way of solving contradictions among the people.

-Pattern of Unwillingness to Struggle Politically

In line with the use of violence to solve political disagreements, there is an unwillingness on the part of the old-ideas clique to engage in any political struggle. We point here to the sudden departure of the MER Montreal from the MER-RSM without first struggling with the rest of the organization, sudden accounts of past leaders having been unhappy with the work of the Party for years despite not voicing criticisms at the time, and a repeated pattern at the last Congress whereby members of the old-ideas clique continually voted against having any sort of internal debate or discussion on contentious issues. The old-ideas clique also preferred intrigue to political struggle when the question of trans politics arose in the FFPR.

Interference with an Investigation into Sexual Assault Allegations

We recently received information that someone from the old-ideas clique allegedly sexually assaulted a former member of the Party. We want to make absolutely clear that these allegations were not made by the survivor, but rather by a third person, and not at the request of the survivor. The Central Committee has been investigating this issue since we first learned of it. Recently, some members of the old-ideas clique alleged to have received a letter from the survivor denying the allegations. However, the old-ideas clique has refused to turn over this letter to the Central Committee, making the investigation considerably more difficult. As a result, the investigation is still ongoing.

Transphobia

The old-ideas clique upholds transphobia under the guise of proletarian feminism. Specifically here we point to a number of events. A document titled “On the PFF and the Oppression of Women” was submitted to the last Congress by members of the Montreal FFPR and subsequently rejected by the Congress. This document rejects the idea that there is such a thing as “cis-sex”, and refers to trans women as simply men who, under the malaise of patriarchy, have decided to subject themselves to gender-based oppression. Aside from this document, a trans supporter of the Party in Montreal was pushed out of the FFPR and then ultimately the cell itself due to their gender identity and appearance. A member of the FFPR who questioned that decision was also ostracized. There was also a pattern of consistent misgendering of trans comrades by members of the old-ideas clique.

Theft

When the old-ideas clique declared the Central Committee to be illegitimate, they not only seized control of the Party website but also the majority of the Party’s resources. They were able to do so because many of the old-ideas clique constitute members of the “historical leadership group”; those that formally led the Party, but who are currently not on the Central Committee. The current Central Committee did not expect that there would be issues of this magnitude, and so saw no issue with the Party’s resources being held in the same locations they had been previously. As a result, the old-ideas clique has absconded with the majority of the party’s savings –a substantial amount after 10 years – and physical resources (including 1000 printed copies of the latest edition of our theoretical journal) while also leaving the Central Committee with the responsibility to repay previously incurred expenses.

-Rejection of Democratic Centralism

For some time now there have been issues with centralization of information to, and decentralization of decisions from the Central Committee to the Montreal cell. In part, this was due to the tacit rejection, on the part of the old-ideas clique, of the authority of the Central Committee. Instead, the old-ideas clique constituted a “second centre” which in essence made decisions for Quebec without involving the Central Committee. Issues arose previous to the recent events when the Montreal cell and the Quebec District (effectively the same people) both voted to “not-integrate” a transferred member, despite our Constitution being very clear that only the Central Committee has the authority to expel anyone. This issue came to a head when the old-ideas clique was no longer the majority of the Party’s leadership; the old-ideas clique unilaterally, representing only 15% of the Party’s membership at most, declared the Central Committee to be illegitimate and overturned the decision to expel the four supporters involved in the March 4 assault. Since declaring the Central Committee to be illegitimate, the old-ideas clique have travelled around Quebec attempting to get the Quebec branches to sign a document declaring the members of the old-ideas clique the legitimate leadership of the Party. Even in this blatant factional behaviour they refuse to abide by the democratic centralism of the Party, bypassing local leadership and instead going to “trusted” comrades for the endorsement. The old-ideas clique, insofar as they do not abide by the authority of the legitimate democratically elected Central Committee, has shown that they reject the democratic centralism of the PCR-RCP and instead give pride-of-place to their own subjective opinions.

While many of these issues are not new, the Central Committee had hoped that they could be solved through rectification. However, due to recent events we feel they are now serious enough to warrant the expulsion of the old-ideas clique, and by extension, the Montreal and Valleyfield cells.

As mentioned earlier, we are sure that these actions and positions are not reflective of all comrades in the Montreal and Valleyfield cells of the Party. However, because the old-ideas clique has made it impossible for us to contact members of these cells, we have been forced to expel the entire cells. To the comrades in these cells we want to make it clear: regardless of your position in the line struggle, if you recognize the current leadership as legitimate, please contact the Central Committee at: pcr.rcp.canada@gmail.com and you will be reinstated.

The Central Committee of the PCR-RCP would also like to take this time to apologize to the masses of Montreal for the very serious mistakes we have committed in the past. We apologize to the workers of Café Aquin for the recent assaults committed under the name of the Party. We apologize to queer and trans comrades for the transphobia of the Montreal cell and the FFPR. We apologize for the sectarianism of the former Montreal cell, specifically to the IWW. And we also apologize to the masses more broadly and those involved with the initiatives of the Montreal cell for the bureaucratic manner in which the cell oversaw its work, and the lack of importance it gave to independent mass initiatives. Further, we want to apologize to everyone affected by this unprincipled and antagonistic behaviour for our inability to reign in these destructive tendencies on the part of the old-ideas clique and prevent them from doing harm to others on the left and the masses more broadly.

Insofar as the Montreal and Valleyfield cells of the RCP have been expelled, the Central Committee requests that other people and organizations consider these facts. Until these individuals stop using the “Revolutionary Communist Party” name, we ask that they not be included in coalitions or other joint initiatives. Until many of these problems are rectified, it is the opinion of the Central Committee that the old-ideas clique should be politically isolated.

We would also like to take this opportunity to announce the launch of a new Organizing Committee in Montreal. In no uncertain terms, the Montreal RCP (OC) is the only legitimate representative of the RCP in Montreal. In turn they have begun mass work in earnest, with the launch of ROAR: a mass organization of queer revolutionaries. We applaud their tenacity and commitment to revolutionary politics in what is surely a volatile and difficult situation. We invite all other individuals and organizations in Montreal who are interested in working with the RCP to contact the RCP (OC) in Montreal.

In closing, it is unfortunate that we have been forced to expel the Montreal and Valleyfield cells. We recognize that many of the old-ideas clique were instrumental in bringing MLM to North America, and in the construction of the PCR-RCP. This is undoubtedly a step backwards for our organization, if only a short-term one. We hope that in time we can regain the trust of the masses of Montreal, and we know that with correct methods our work will recover in the Montreal region.

-The Central Committee of the PCR-RCP

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Addendum: Motion for Rectification in Montreal, Adopted March 5, 2017

Since the last Congress (though truthfully, since 2012 and the 2014 special congress) it has become apparent that there are problems with the work of the Montreal cell. At present, these errors on the part of Montreal not only threaten to lead to the stagnation of the work in Montreal, but also threaten the work of the Party in the rest of Quebec and Canada. This is not to say that there is no good work being done in Montreal, or that we do not appreciate the considerable sacrifice in time and resources that comrades in Montreal have devoted to the cause of revolution. However, we charge that there is an incorrect understanding of MLM amongst the comrades in Montreal, and errors in work. This document will highlight some of the errors, and will end with a proposal for a rectification campaign.

We want to make clear as well: this is not a punitive motion, and should not be interpreted as such. In fact, we see this as being less severe than the action the Central Committee took towards the Toronto cell in 2015, where the cell, due to incorrect approaches to work, was stripped of its cell status and turned into an organizing committee. We do not think that such a severe approach would be useful in rectifying the errors in Montreal.

 

Background

The current errors in Montreal were all, more-or-less, identified at the Third Congress, specifically in the document titled Assessment – Development of the Party and Proposals. It is worth noting that comrades from Montreal wrote this assessment, and that it was adopted at a time when comrades from Montreal constituted the majority of the Party. This document identified that: the work and expansion of the Party in Quebec had stagnated (#7), that the general level of work in Montreal was weak, that there had been the loss of several organizing committees in Quebec, that there had been an inability to develop cadres and intermediate leadership (#8), that the level of Marxism was low (#9), and that there was an irrational fear of economism which prevented the Party from properly deploying among the masses (#10). These problems mainly manifested in the Party’s incredibly poor showing during the 2012 student strikes: contrary to current interpretations that downplay the importance of the 2012 strikes, at the Third Congress we identified that the poor showing was “disastrous… our party slipped away, while it should have shone like never before.” The root cause of these problems was identified as the failure of the historical leading group of the Party: it was no longer to issue “clear and relevant” proposals, and as a result was deemed no longer able to “propel the party forward.”

The Congress was tasked to elect a new leadership, and re-constitute a new direction for the party. In this it was partially successful: while a number of good resolutions and perspectives were passed, shortly after the Congress the majority of the new Central Committee either resigned or fell ill. As such, despite the party entering the fastest period of growth in its history, the rectification was uneven.

The central problem seems to be that instead of the cell in Montreal internalizing the results of the Third Party Congress, the cell in Montreal has instead decided to forget the Third Party Congress and repeat the errors that led to the need for a special congress in the first place. That this was able to occur speaks to the weakness of the leadership of the Party during the period between the Third and Fourth Congresses.

 

Identification of Problems

Before listing the current perceived problems in the work of the Montreal cell, it should be noted that one of the central problems – a shroud of mystery around the affairs of Montreal – makes it difficult at many times to speak concretely. We are open to these criticisms being incorrect; however, the central problem of a lack of clarity from Montreal underlines this issue. We will add that in the past it has been difficult for Central Committee resolutions and decisions to reach Montreal, and in turn, the Central Committee seldom received reports from Montreal, nor was called on to inform or comment on the work of the Montreal cell.

First, the main issue, as stated earlier, is the fact that the Montreal cell has not internalized the resolutions of the Third Congress. Following from this: there appears to be an inability to build new leadership outside of the old leading group (and certainly outside of the perspectives of the old leadership group!). We also identify that there seems to have been a large turnover of membership within Montreal that has not been accounted for; membership of the cell seems to be more-or-less what it was in 2014, despite several new comrades being brought in. We note that on the part of the Quebec district leadership (which, insofar as it is cohesive with the Montreal leadership, bleeds together these issues) there has not been an account of why the Party has failed to expand across Quebec since 2014.

We note that from what we have heard about the life of the Montreal cell, there is no regular criticism/self-criticism; it does not appear to be done at meetings of the cell. Indeed, this seems to have translated into the general culture of the Party in Quebec, and indicates why there has not been systematic attempts to rectify incorrect conceptions and learn from mistakes. As a result, the Quebec district, instead of learning from past mistakes, seems committed to repeat them: the relaunching of the Partisan, the relaunching of the Red Youth Front, and the relaunching of the RWM according to its previous unsuccessful mode of deployment all point to this.

Another error in the practice of the cell is the failure to properly integrate a comrade, and their subsequent exclusion. We state, in no uncertain terms, that cells do not have the right to not-integrate Party members. This action implies that cells have the right to expel members, a responsibility which our Constitution very clearly states only the Central Committee has. Realizing the mistake, comrades from Montreal instead turned to bureaucratic and legalistic justifications for the error. Since then there has been no attempt to self-criticize for the errors, nor has the comrade been integrated. In turn, another comrade from the PFF who reached out to the comrade who was not integrated properly was also excluded from the PFF, indicating a cliquish mentality, and a troubling culture in what was and should be a vibrant mass organization.

More broadly, the conception of the mass line by the comrades in Montreal is incorrect, and is out of step with the rest of the Party. Instead of understanding the importance of initiative from the masses and the role of the Party as a political leadership, the cell in Montreal advances a bureaucratic understanding of the mass line which subordinates all mass organizations to a position of being simply sector-based detachments of the party. This indicates that there is a fear of independent initiative from the masses, as well as a fear of the Party’s inability to politically lead the masses. It is a commandist error, and will prohibit the Party from growing and expanding its influence.

[We have redacted a short section at the beginning of this paragraph whose inclusion would necessarily have outed a few comrades as Party members. In short, it pertains to the Montreal cell ignoring a directive from the CC concerning local members’ participation in the RSM]. Furthermore, we note that even after bringing up this error at the Central Committee, and mandating the members of the Central Committee from Montreal to ensure that the RSM in Montreal participate in the Pan-Canadian RSM, the Montreal cell did not ensure that the Montreal RSM attended the 6th Pan-Canadian Congress of the RSM, nor did they find a replacement member for the Coordinating Committee of the RSM. This, in our opinion, represents a deliberate attempt to undermine a Party initiative, flies in the face of the established trajectory of the party (flirting with a breach of democratic centralism), and is totally unacceptable. Even if the local RSM section and Party cell disagreed with the approach of the Pan-Canadian RSM (over which, we should add, the RCP has considerable political influence), it should have attended and struggled through issues of line with other comrades: this is the Maoist way of doing work. In light of this, as well as the poor and antagonistic attitude of Montreal RSM members in the Party, we find the sudden cancellation of the Montreal Congress of the RSM in November to be worthy of investigation. If nothing else, the lack of effort to find a new venue –as confirmed by a Central Committee member who was in Montreal at the time – is worthy of a more thorough investigation into this issue.

We also suggest that the cell in Montreal advances an overly clandestine approach to mass work, choosing tactics which do not necessarily fit the situation. Here we point to the November 2 Day of Action, where RSM comrades did a banner drop. However, instead of using the banner drop as a means of engaging with the masses, distributing propaganda, and having conversations (potentially bringing new comrades closer), the RSM comrades stood apart from the masses by “blocing up.” The result was, to be frank, embarrassing, and reflected poorly on the RSM and the Party.

We also add here the hostility towards other organizations, such as the IWW: the “Limits of the IWW” event was needlessly sectarian, and was only saved by the good-graces of IWW members in attendance. Especially egregious was the position that the IWW’s activity actually did not need to be investigated in order to critique it.

One of the more egregious errors is the prevalence of trans-exclusionary and transphobic politics within the Montreal cell under the veneer of Proletarian Feminism. Not only are these politics absolutely vile –communists should be tribunes of the oppressed, not contributing to oppression – but they are incorrect as well. Instead of a genuine Proletarian Feminism, the conception in Montreal is simply radical feminism with a Marxist veneer.

There is a general attitude of dogmatism amongst comrades in Montreal. Comrades uphold certain internal texts and the Programme, as being infallible, despite the Party having already identified shortcomings in these texts. In the place of critical thinking and a scientific approach to work, there is a dogmatic and religious approach to theory. We point here to the comrades in Montreal voting systematically at the Congress against internal debates over the mass line, proletarian feminism, and other issues. As a result, the cell in Montreal continues to rely on vague, bombastic declarations rather than concrete proposals. This was a problem indicated at the Third Congress of the Party, as was identified in the Assessment.

Finally, we also note the level of antagonism currently shown by the comrades in Montreal to the rest of the organization. There seems to be an overwhelming attitude that comrades from outside of Quebec are not worth engaging with, are inherently Liberal, or are somehow compromised politically. We point here to conduct during the Congress, the Quebec District Plan, and reports we have heard from the Quebec district Congress. Such an attitude is not conducive to building political unity, and serves to fracture the organization.

It is clear that there are numerous errors in Montreal, which are bleeding into the work of the entire Quebec district. The question now becomes: how do we solve these problems.

 

Rectification

As was earlier noted, there is a veil of mystery around the operations of the Party in Montreal. As a result of this, we are not confident that we can pinpoint the root of the problem, either in terms of individuals, mistaken attitudes, or other sources.

To that end, we propose the following steps towards rectifying these mistaken ideas.

  1. Investigation – The General Secretary will meet individually with every member of the Party in Quebec. All members of the Party are required to cooperate with the rectification process. The GS will conduct interviews with these comrades in order to discern their attitudes towards a number of issues. Questions will include:
    1. What is your opinion of the development of the Party in your city?
    2. What is your opinion of the development of the Party in Quebec?
    3. What is your opinion of the development of the Party throughout Canada?
    4. To what extent has information on the development of the Party throughout Canada been made available to you?
    5. Evaluate your cell meetings. Do you feel as though you have political ownership over the direction of the Party? What is done well? What can be improved?
    6. What role does criticism and self-criticism play, concretely, in the work that you do?
    7. What is your understanding of the mass line?
    8. What is your evaluation of the current debates on line (proletarian feminism, the mass line, role of unions) ongoing within the Party?
    9. What is your evaluation of the Third and Fourth Congresses?
    10. What steps have been taken to implement the decisions of the Third Congresses?

Questions are not limited to these, and should seek to uncover the basic opinions of Party members on the life of the Party.

The GS should also meet with as many forces external to the Party as possible (failed integrations, people who have left, mass organizations, other organizations, etc.) to get a sense of what the general perception of the Party is among the masses.

  1. Report – The GS will prepare a report for the Central Committee containing the results of this investigation. The report should be comprehensive, and should indicate the contours of opinions (including majority and minority opinions) on these questions.
  2. Action – Upon receiving the report, the Central Committee will decide what rectification actions need to be taken, tailored to address the specific conditions in Quebec.

 

We believe that if this plan for rectification is followed, it can only have a positive outcome, and can only result in greater political unity amongst revolutionary forces across Canada.