Anti-war activist Allan Bezanson can’t campaign on his bike like he used to, because he gets too short of breath. These days, the 67-year-old Marxist-Leninist candidate pickets on street-corners, letting the people come to him.
“It’s a 365-day job,” said Bezanson, who is running in the federal riding of Halifax. “The work we’re doing in the election is no different than the work we do the rest of the year.”
The founding member of anti-war organization “No Harbour for War,” Bezanson spends his time organizing anti-war rallies and fighting for the rights of the working class and students.
This election will be Bezanson’s sixth shot at a Member of Parliament position. A native Nova Scotian, Bezanson left Dalhousie University in 1973, migrating to the West Coast and becoming involved in the Marxist-Leninist Party. Since then, he has run for office in Vancouver, Vancouver Island, Nova Central (New Glasgow/Antigonish) and in the Halifax region.
“My anti-war work and my political work came up hand-in-hand,” said Bezanson.
“If you’re anti-war, you have to think about ‘what is the cause of war’? You have to get into imperialism and look at the sources of war, so then you get into the political realm.”
Bezanson’s rigorously Communist platform has always focused on regular citizens as agents of change.
“It should not be the political parties that run the elections. The working class should be the decision makers in this country,” said Bezanson.
“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,” he said.
In his fight against the Harper government, Bezanson fights voter apathy
To those considering voting Conservative in this federal election, Bezanson asks, “are you nuts?”
Still, Bezanson claims the Marxist-Leninist party does not focus on changing the minds of advocates of Stephen Harper’s government. Rather, he says, they place their efforts in motivating citizens who are typically disengaged from politics.
“To not vote is a vote for Harper,” Bezanson insists.
“It’s very much in Harper’s interest to have people disenfranchised, disempowered, listless, apathetic. People have to have an outlook that it’s the voters that are the decision-makers in this country.”
Bezanson particularly calls upon local youth to educate themselves on the parties, their platforms, and the issues that they care about. He knows his party will not win a seat in this election, but he feels he can play a role in ending voter apathy.
“I would like it to go much further and to have people vote Marxist-Leninist,” he said. “But you know, that’s fine.”
“If you don’t take up day-to-day politics of struggle where you work, where you study and where you live, we’re going to get more of the same,” Bezanson said, describing more of what he sees to be ‘governmental oppression’ within the ‘Harper regime.’
“If you decide to do nothing, there will be more Bill C-51s, more security legislations, there’ll be more bombing.”
On Harper and the niqab debate: ‘these are values of reaction and terror’
Referring to the high-profile federal government proposal to require women who wear the niqab to remove it during citizenship ceremonies, Bezanson asks rhetorically, “Why is it an election issue?”
It is within the Marxist-Leninist platform that all people should be able to freely decide how they want to present themselves, under all circumstances.
“These are not Canadian values,” said Bezanson, disdainfully.
“These are values of reaction and terror.”