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Miguel Figueroa
Figueroa in 2012
Leader of the Communist Party of Canada
In office
Preceded byGeorge Hewison
Succeeded byElizabeth Rowley
Personal details
Born (1952-07-29) July 29, 1952 (age 69)
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Political partyCommunist Party of Canada

Miguel Figueroa (born July 29, 1952) is a Canadian political activist who was the leader of the Communist Party of Canada from 1992 to 2015. He is known for the landmark Figueroa case, which redefined the role of small parties and Canadian Parliamentary democracy, as well as his role re-establishing the Communist Party of Canada in the post-Soviet era.[1]

Early political career

Figueroa was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He attended Dawson College, McGill and Concordia in Montreal, before joining the staff of the National Union of Students in 1975 as a national field organizer.[1]

Figueroa joined the Communist Party in 1977 and held many positions within the Party. In 1978, he became the party's Greater Vancouver organizer,[1] working with people such as city councilors Harry Rankin and Bruce Yorke as well as Party activists across the region. He also helped organize demonstrations which brought scores of thousands onto the streets, marching for nuclear disarmament.

From 1986 to 1992, Figueroa served as regional correspondent for the Canadian Tribune and the Party's Atlantic region leader.[1] He was based in Halifax, but traveled across Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland on a regular basis. In 1991 Figueroa was laid off (a casualty of the inner-party struggle which had begun to brew), and he decided to go back to school, beginning a Master's program in International Development Studies at St. Mary's University, while working as a teaching assistant at neighbouring Dalhousie University. In 1992–93, Figueroa chaired a union organizing committee that signed up 800 part-time seasonal professors and teaching assistants at Dalhousie, ultimately leading to membership in the Canadian Union of Public Employees. He was also active in various mass movements like peace and disarmament, international solidarity, and trade union organizing.

Leadership of the Communist Party of Canada

The dissolution of the Soviet Union produced sharply different assessments within the CPC.

The protracted ideological, political, organizational and legal battle created much confusion and disorientation within the ranks of the Party, and paralysed both its independent and united front work for over two years. Ultimately, the Hewison-led majority in the party's Central Committee and Central 28th Convention voted to abandon Marxism-Leninism. An orthodox minority, led by Elizabeth Rowley, Figueroa and former leader William Kashtan, resisted this effort. As the inner-party conflict intensified, the Hewison leadership expelled Rowley and 10 other leading opponents of the reformist orientation being imposed, and the moves to liquidate the party entirely. In August 1991, Rowley and the other expelled members took the Communist Party to court. An out-of-court settlement resulted in the Hewison leadership relinquishing the name "Communist Party of Canada", and in return split the party's assets with the Hewison group under the umbrella of the Cecil-Ross Society, a publishing and educational foundation previously associated with the party.

A convention was held in December 1992 in which delegates declared themselves to be the continuation of the Communist Party (thus the meeting was titled the 30th CPC Convention). Delegates rejected the changes instituted by Hewison and reaffirmed the CPC as a Marxist-Leninist organization. Since half of the old party's assets were now the property of the Hewison-led Cecil Ross Society, the CPC convention decided to launch a new newspaper, the People's Voice, to replace the Canadian Tribune and Pacific Tribune.

Elected leader in December 1992 at the 30th Party Convention, Figueroa was re-elected to that office until his resignation in January 2016, for health reasons. Over his 23-year term, Figueroa led the party through eight federal election campaigns, touring and speaking across the country.[1] As part of a new collective leadership, he worked to help achieve what the Party considers the clarification of its revolutionary orientation as well as its ideological identity based on Marxism-Leninism. In particular, Figueroa participated in the elaboration of the Party's new political program, Canada’s Future is Socialism!, a process which began in the mid-1990s and culminated in the adoption of the final version at the 33rd Central Convention in February 2001.

His leadership also saw the consolidation and rebuilding of the Communist Party across the country — helping to launch People’s Voice and, later, Clarté, as well as The Spark! , the CPC's theoretical and discussion journal. The Party re-established several clubs and committees, including the Party's Quebec component the Communist Party of Quebec, as well as the youth organization known as the Young Communist League. The Party continues to play a role in many labour, peace, environmental, aboriginal, women's, student, immigrant and other people's movements.

Figueroa chaired the international commission of the Party and represented the CPC around the world, including Greece, Portugal, India, China, Vietnam, South Africa, Cuba, Venezuela and the United States. He was regularly present at the International Meeting of Communist and Workers' Parties[1] where, on behalf of the Party, he advocated for efforts to build greater cooperation, political cohesion, and unity of action among Communist and Workers’ parties to deal with the growing dangers of imperialism and urgent problems of peace, solidarity and protection of the global environment.

The 38th Central Convention of the CPC was held May 21–23, 2016 in Toronto. The Convention included a tribute to Miguel Figueroa for his lengthy service as party leader; it also elected Elizabeth Rowley as the new national leader. Figueroa was elected to the new 23-member Central Committee.

Recent History

In October 2016, Figueroa was invited to join the Executive of the Canadian Peace Congress, and was subsequently appointed "interim President" in early 2017. He organized several speaking tours with Eva Bartlett and Canadian author Stephen Gowans in the winter and spring of 2017, and undertook a Canada-wide tour in the fall of 2017, which covered 13 cities across the country. He also represented the Peace Congress in solidarity missions to Venezuela and Syria during that year. In 2018 he participated in a hemispheric conference of peace organizations held in Moca, Dominican Republic in September, and the Executive Meeting of the World Peace Council in Damascus, Syria in October.

In November 2018, the Peace Congress convened a country-wide Convention in Toronto, at which time Figueroa was elected President, leading an 11-member Executive Committee elected at the Convention.

Figueroa v. Canada

In 1993, the fledgling CPC was still recovering from its crisis and split. The Party now had only a few hundred members, and had lost a number of assets, including the party's headquarters at 24 Cecil Street in Toronto. As a result, the CPC was not in a position to run fifty candidates in the 1993 federal election, the number required to maintain official party status because of recent changes to Canada's Elections Act. As a result, the newly relaunched CPC was deregistered by Elections Canada, and its remaining assets were seized by the government. A prolonged legal battle, Figueroa v. Canada ensued, resulting in a Supreme Court of Canada ruling in 2003 that overturned a provision in the Elections Act requiring fifty candidates for official party status (the number had been increased by an act of parliament in the intervening years). Earlier in the legal battle, the party had its deregistration overturned and its seized assets restored.

Canadian federal elections since 2000

Figueroa has run in nine Canadian general elections and at least two provincial elections:

Electoral record

2015 Canadian federal election: Davenport
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
Liberal Julie Dzerowicz 21,947 44.26 +16.36 $81,434.76
New Democratic Andrew Cash 20,506 41.36 -12.36 $113,630.62
Conservative Carlos Oliveira 5,233 10.55 -3.67 $8,821.20
Green Dan Stein 1,530 3.09 -0.33 $8,434.06
Communist Miguel Figueroa 261 0.53
Independent Chai Kalevar 107 0.22 $1,430.00
Total valid votes/expense limit 49,584 100.00   $205,012.65
Total rejected ballots 287 0.58
Turnout 49,871 69.19
Eligible voters 72,082
Liberal gain from New Democratic Swing +14.36
Source: Elections Canada[2][3]
2011 Canadian federal election: Davenport
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
New Democratic Andrew Cash 21,096 53.74 +22.48
Liberal Mario Silva 10,946 27.89 -17.88
Conservative Theresa Rodrigues 5,573 14.20 +3.19
Green Wayne Scott 1,344 3.42 -7.07
Communist Miguel Figueroa 167 0.43 -0.03
Animal Alliance Simon Luisi 128 0.33 +0.07
Total valid votes/expense limit 39,254 100.00
Total rejected ballots 235 0.60 -0.10
Turnout 39,489 61.92 +8.88
2008 Canadian federal election: Davenport
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
Liberal Mario Silva 15,953 45.77 -6.10 $47,491
New Democratic Peter Ferreira 10,896 31.26 -1.35 $55,530
Conservative Theresa Rodrigues 3,838 11.01 +0.21 $13,993
Green Wayne Scott 3,655 10.49 +6.79 $12,172
Canadian Action Wendy Forrest 172 0.49 +0.18 $723
Communist Miguel Figueroa 160 0.46 +0.02 $432
Animal Alliance Simon Luisi 92 0.26 $957
Marxist–Leninist Sarah Thompson 87 0.25 -0.01
Total valid votes/expense limit 34,853 100.00 $79,438
Total rejected ballots 245 0.70 +0.09
Turnout 35,098 53.03 -7.58
2006 Canadian federal election: Davenport
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Mario Silva 20,172 51.87 +1.18
New Democratic Gord Perks 12,681 32.61 -1.52
Conservative Theresa Rodrigues 4,202 10.80 +1.50
Green Mark O'Brien 1,440 3.70 -0.48
Communist Miguel Figueroa 172 0.44 +0.03
Canadian Action Wendy Forrest 122 0.31 +0.02
Marxist–Leninist Sarah Thompson 103 0.26 +0.02
Total valid votes 38,892 100.00
Total rejected ballots 240 0.61 -0.22
Turnout 39,132 60.61 +7.72
Elections Canada, Riding of Davenport, Electoral District 35015.
2004 Canadian federal election: Beaches—East York
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Maria Minna 22,494 47.92 -4.9
New Democratic Peter Tabuns 15,156 32.29 +11.3
Conservative Nick Nikopoulos 6,603 14.06 -8.5
Green Peter Davison 2,127 4.53 +3.1
Marijuana Daniel Dufresne 365 0.77 -0.8
Independent Edward Slota 80 0.17
Communist Miguel Figueroa 62 0.13 -0.1
Marxist–Leninist Roger Carter 46 0.09 0.0
Total valid votes 46,933 100.00
Total rejected ballots 204 0.43
Turnout 47,137 64.02
Conservative vote is compared to the total of the Canadian Alliance vote and Progressive Conservative vote in 2000 election.
1997 Canadian federal election: Davenport, Toronto
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Charles Caccia 17,195 65.9 -8.0
New Democratic Chris Masterson 4,807 18.4 +9.4
Progressive Conservative Adele Pereira 2,628 10.1 +5.5
Green Richard Procter 551 2.1 +1.2
Canadian Action Ann Emmett 293 1.1
Marxist–Leninist Francesco Chilelli 250 1.0 +0.7
Independent Miguel Figueroa 194 0.7
Independent John Munoro 190 0.7
Total valid votes 26,108 100.0
1988 Canadian federal election: Halifax
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Mary Clancy 22,470 43.00 +8.64
Progressive Conservative Stewart McInnes 19,840 37.97 -6.81
New Democratic Ray Larkin 9,269 17.74 -2.71
Libertarian Howard J. MacKinnon 292 0.56
Communist Miguel Figueroa 151 0.29
Independent Tony Seed 134 0.26
Commonwealth of Canada J. Basil MacDougall 94 0.18
Total valid votes 52,250 100.00
1984 Canadian federal election: Vancouver East
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
New Democratic Margaret Anne Mitchell 18,464 51.79 +7.88
Liberal Shirley Maple Wong 9,044 25.37 -14.64
Progressive Conservative Jack J. Volrich 7,210 20.22 +5.61
Rhinoceros Cameron H. McCabe 342 0.96 +0.35
Libertarian Sandy MacDonald 330 0.93
Communist Miguel Figueroa 259 0.73 +0.17
Total valid votes 35,649 100.0  
New Democratic hold Swing +11.26
1993 federal election: Parkdale—High Park
Party Candidate Votes %
  Liberal (x)Jesse Flis 22,358 54.36
  Reform Lee Primeau 6,647 16.16
  Progressive Conservative Don Baker 5,668 13.78
  New Democratic Party David Miller 3,855 9.37
  National Stephen A. Biega 1,320 3.21
Green Richard Roy 430 1.05
  Natural Law Wanda Beaver 371 0.90
  Libertarian Haig Baronikian 264 0.64
  Ind. (Communist) Miguel Figueroa 105 0.26
  Abolitionist Thomas Earl Pennington 60 0.15
  Marxist-Leninist André Vachon 53 0.13
Total valid votes 41,131 100.00
Rejected, unmarked and declined ballots 416
Turnout 41,547 66.37


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Communist Party elects first woman leader". Communist Party of Canada. Communist Party of Canada. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 16 February 2016.
  2. ^ Elections Canada – Confirmed candidates for Davenport, 30 September 2015
  3. ^ Elections Canada – Final Candidates Election Expenses Limits