Clara Sorrenti needs 20 signatures to take Forest City communism to the federal stage.
Clipboards with blank signup sheets sat at the back of room 67 in the University Community Centre Friday night. Here, Sorrenti and 12 locals are launching her campaign for federal office.
Sorrenti is the London North Centre candidate for the Communist Party of Canada. The launch featured Elizabeth Rowley, the party’s leader, who spoke about a wide array of party platforms, from Indigenous issues to London’s manufacturing industry.
While Sorrenti was already nominated by the party, she needs 20 more signatures to guarantee her spot on the ballot.
Elections Canada requires each candidate to gather 140 signatures in their riding in order to be nominated. She had two more signatures by the time Rowley began her speech.
To gain the autographs she needs, Sorrenti’s campaign manager gathered supporters to canvas Western’s residences and nearby student housing after the meeting.
The local team is hoping to submit the signatures to Elections Canada by Monday and focus on the campaign ahead of them.
Although Sorrenti is a former Western University student, the party said they chose the UCC for their campaign launch because it was cheap.
“We’re a small party and a lot of the venues in the city are pretty expensive so we thought we’d do it here,” Sorrenti said. “And as well, students are a lot more sympathetic to left wing causes, so we thought it was a good fit.”
While few students attended the event, Sorrenti believes they understand the urgency of issues like climate change and the skyrocketing living costs.
“I’m going out right after this to go talk to students. I think are policies are really something that students would like,” she said. “We’re the only party calling for cancellation of student debt across the board.”
Rowley agreed that free tuition is their most student-friendly policy. The party would abolish student loaning, forgive all existing student debt and federally fund students’ living expenses.
“Access to university or college shouldn’t depend on family’s wealth or deep pockets,” said Rowley.
There are 31 Communist candidates campaigning around Canada, which the party acknowledges is not enough to win a majority in the house. Rowley said voting for the communist party could prevent mainstream parties from holding a majority.
She said key members of the communist party, along with the Green Party and the NDP, could form a progressive bloc in the house, which could prevent what she calls “big business parties” from running government.
Though the party has been active and occasionally prominent since its founding in 1921, they have only won one seat.
Nor do they have a spot in the national debates. But, in London, Sorrenti has already been invited to four.
Locals may recognize Sorrenti from her past political ventures. She ran in the same riding with the Communist Party of Ontario in the 2018 provincial election. She ultimately lost the spot to NDP Terence Kernaghan.
She is also a member of the Young Communist League in the city.
“People are less scared of socialism and also less scared of communism than they were in the past,” she said.
“Things with the economy are getting really tight, people are feeling really squeezed, and seeing that there’s actually alternatives out there to what they’re facing.”