NDP officials failed to convince a majority of the 1,572 delegates to the June 17 - 19 Federal Convention in Vancouver, British Columbia to approve a shift to the right. Led by the high-profile Socialist Caucus, NDP leftists stopped cold a bid by the establishment to “sanitize” the party constitution by removing a reference to “democratic socialist principles” from its preamble.
The Socialist Caucus has created a Facebook group. Click here to logon and join up. It's a great way to stay in contact with other SC activists throughout the country, and you can post messages to let others know about upcoming events and important issues.
Socialist Caucus chair Barry Weisleder speaks at the recent NDP Convention in Vancouver against the resolution to change the pre-ample of the constitution, saying that socialism is a vital theoretical component of the NDP and the working class movement. Read full text below:
Socialism is not an anchor. It's a rocket! You can take the word socialism out of the preamble, but you can't take socialism out of the NDP.
In many ways, this is a peculiar debate. The Halifax convention in 2009 mandated a review of the Constitution preamble. So, how long did it take to formulate this proposed amendment? Why was the new wording circulated only on the eve of this convention?
How is “social democratic” a more modern expression than “socialist” given that the two terms co-existed in the nineteenth century?
The NDP belongs to the Socialist International. Does that mean the NDP will quit the S.I. if "socialism" remains in the name?
Is this motion really about modernism, or is it really about moderation of a diluted message?
And look at the timing. We are living in the most severe global capitalist crisis since the 1930s. Working people are in debt to an unprecedented extent. There's a food crisis, an environmental crisis, several wars of plunder and occupation in the name of profit. And now some genius wants to take socialism out of the Constitution? What would Tommy Douglas say? No, No, No, a thousand times No!
No change of wording can erase the socialist roots and the working class origins of the CCF-NDP. So then, what is the function of such a proposed change?
It is two-fold. It puts a distance between today's party and the generations of labour and socialist movement activists who fought scabs on picket lines, got arrested, shed blood in the battles for social justice, Medicare, democracy and peace.
The change would also send a signal to the Canadian establishment. It would say you can trust the NDP not to rock the boat of Canadian capitalism, not to challenge the system per se. Oh, the business media would still call the NDP “socialist” no matter what. But party leaders could publicly disavow the term. Worse, it would deprive the youth of a socialist education in the realities of the class struggle.
Sisters and brothers, now is not the time to dilute our principles. Now is not the time to send the wrong signal to young rebels and to millions of disaffected voters.
Let's keep socialism in the Constitution, and let's put it into practice, not only in Parliament, but on the picket lines, in the work place, and on the streets.
It is capitalism that has out-lived its usefulness. The future belongs to democratic socialism. Let's keep the red flag flying. Delegates, let's defeat this motion massively!”
We all remember that wonderful night on May 2nd, when we saw our party launched into official opposition with over 100 seats. Yet at the victory party, TV viewers were spectacle to a sea of red and white maple leaf flags. Curiously absent were any Quebec flags with the Fleur de Lis, which even the English media in Quebec took note of. In response, SC Steering Committee member Hans Modlich wrote a letter to NDP Communications Director Brad Levigne to ask about the so-called "flag flap."
During the recent NDP Convention in Vancouver, Socialist Caucus chair Barry Weisleder participated in a CBC radio discussion with the two activists about the future direction of the NDP. Both Rebick and Weisleder stated that the NDP must democratize and re-connect with working people and progressive minded Canadians in the fight for economics justice and global peace.
Socialist Caucus Activist John Orrett Addresses the Issue of Public Ownership and Economic Democracy
The SC held several panels at the previous NDP Convention in Nova Scotia two years ago, all of which are located on the Socialist Caucus YouTube page. SC activist John Orrett discusses the recent financial collapse and how socialist solutions can help put our economy back on track
"Free market economics is the art of making the comfortable FEEL comfortable." NDP Socialist Caucus. Copyright 2013. All Rights Reserved. email@example.com
Although Niki was unsuccessful, the SC provided over 1,700 of the newest edition of its magazine, Turn Left, to party members. And as we write in our 2012 Convention report, the Left in the NDP has to remain vigilant in the struggles ahead.
Jack Layton, Leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada, fought valiantly, but lost his second battle with cancer early on August 22 in Toronto. His passing, at age 61, is a cause of great sadness for all working people and the population at large, a tremendous blow to his family, to whom we send heartfelt condolences, and to the labour-based NDP to which Jack devoted his political life.
Dear Fellow Members and Supporters of the NDP Socialist Caucus:
Change is in the air. We have a new leader in Ottawa. A vicious Federal Budget was introduced by the Harper Conservatives, incorporating significant cuts to jobs and public services in Canada. How will Thomas Mulcair and the NDP Caucus respond? How can we build an opposition to the austerity drive in Parliament, in the Labour movement, at work, in our communities and on the streets?
In Ontario, we face a double whammy as the McGuinty Liberals have introduced a budget that will attack the living standards of 99% of Ontarions. Welfare rate freezes in the face of inflation and higher rents, a wage freeze and the elimination of real collective bargaining in the Ontario Public Sector, regressive pension changes, and cuts to numerous social programs are fast approaching.
How will Andrea Horwath and the ONDP respond? How can the Socialist Caucus make the best intervention possible at the April 13-15 Convention in Hamilton? New members and veterans of the struggle.... come out now and participate in these important deliberations.
Labour and socialist delegates at the Ontario New Democratic Party Convention, April 13-15 in Hamilton, jointly opposed an emergency resolution backed by the party tops that was very soft on the Ontario Liberal austerity budget. The budget would slash $17.7 billion by cutting public services, freezing public sector wages for two years, attacking pensions, and curtailing collective bargaining affecting some one million workers. A wide swath of destroyed jobs and greater social inequality would be the inevitable result.
Ontario Federation of Labour President Sid Ryan approached the NDP Socialist Caucus in the early hours of the convention, very concerned about a resolution titled "Support ONDP Caucus" -- a self-congratulatory puff piece that lowered the bar for ONDP Leader Andrea Horwath and her caucus of MPPs at Queen's Park to prop up the Liberal provincial minority government.
NDP Socialist Caucus All Out for Toronto Pride 2012 The NDP Socialist Caucus stands with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people in Canada and throughout the world in the struggle for freedom and full equality. Click on the small arrow on the right side of the pictures below to see all the photos from the June 30th event.
NDP Socialist Caucus Prepares for 2013 Federal NDP Convention
Members of the NDP Socialist Caucus gathered at the University of Toronto on December 1 to adopt policies and to set priorities for the coming year.
The annual SC federal conference began with a panel discussion on "Pipelines and Trade Deals: Where does the NDP Stand?" The morning session featured Vanessa Gray, a youth organizer from Aamjiwnaang First Nation and the founder of the Green Teens, a youth environmental club from Sarnia, Ontario; Jen Mills, a member of the Mining Injustice Solidarity Network and a PhD student in Environmental Studies at York University; and John Orrett, President of Thornhill NDP and a Steering committee member of the NDP Socialist Caucus.
In the afternoon, participants debated resolutions and ranked them in order of priority. Download here.
The Socialist Caucus will run candidates for the NDP federal executive, including for the positions of President, Treasurer, and several of the Vice-President and Member-At-Large posts.
SC steering committee member John Orrett offered to stand for the position of party Treasurer. The SC decided to convene another federal conference at U of T on Saturday, March 2, 2013 to decide on the slate of SC candidates for federal NDP executive, as well as to plan floor tactics, distribution of materials and hosting of SC forums to occur at the Montreal Convention Centre.
Turn Left, the attractive SC magazine edited by Sean Cain, will again be a key tool in the hands of party activists striving to educate and organize in favour of a Workers' Agenda in the NDP. To that end, the conference launched an appeal for funds. The aim is to raise $2,500 to cover the costs of publication and shipment. Articles are needed too, in French and/or English (under 800 words, please) on a wide range of issues - required no later than February 8.
Before concluding with announcements and good wishes for the holiday season, the conference welcomed to the existing 37-member SC federal steering committee two new activists: Evan Engering of Mississauga-Streetsville and Chis DeCarlo of Bramalea-Gore-Malton NDP riding associations.
All across the country, the task now is to find out when NDP meetings will be held where we can get SC resolutions discussed, adopted and forwarded to the federal office in good time.
Socialist Caucus Report from 2013 NDP Convention in Montreal
Despite the move to water down the reference to socialism in the Federal New Democratic Party Constitution, the word remains, as does the working class nature of the party. Indeed, socialism is still both a very lively topic and an active movement within the NDP.