Fall 2014 Edition of Turn Left Magazine
The document was written in 1999
by a number of SC activists, and
defines what our group stands for in
the fight for socialist democracy,
workers' rights and economic justice.
During the most recent elections, NDP leaders in various provinces copied the Third Way playbook and ran on so-called "moderate" campaigns to the centre, all of which were disasters, and that's putting it kindly.
Read the Fall 2014 edition of Turn Left Magazine. Also included:
Fred Hahn - Pension Reform
Barry Weisleder - Ontario Election and the Future of the NDP
Jessica Shaw - Women's Voices in the NDP
John Orrett - The Social Democratic Commitment to Tax Big Wealth
Elizabeth Byce - NDP Leadership on Gaza
Alex Hunsberger - Good Jobs Summitt
Interview with Economist Erin Weir
Tyler MacKinnon - Abandon the Generation Blame Game
Larry Rosnuk - Public Health Care
Julius Arscott - Climate Change
Sean Cain - The Life and Death of the Third Way
"Capitalism is just a stage we're going through."
NDP Socialist Caucus. Copyright 2015. All Rights Reserved. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Playing to the 'Middle Class', and Rather Short on Internal Democracy
It was one of the less well attended quarterly meetings of the Ontario NDP provincial council. And as one delegate put it, it was "one of the whitest council meetings in years."
An effort by the Socialist Caucus to get the meeting to direct the executive to provide a room for the SC to use during the Saturday lunch break won the support of about a quarter of the voting delegates at the council.
But after shifting from one spot to another, the SC did find an available, empty room (one booked by the party, which party officials neglected to mention to us). So we held an SC forum there on policies for the NDP federal election campaign, and provided a short update on the two strikes by university workers in Toronto.
Amazingly, 15 people found their way to the gathering. Three of them donated a total of $220 to rent a room for the SC forum at the next council meeting, which is expected to occur in June in Toronto.
At the SC forum there was a good discussion of four P's for the NDP federal campaign platform: Pharmacare, no Pipelines, much more Progressive Taxation, and Palestine (BDS against the Zionist apartheid state). Members supported my proposal that the SC initiate a petition to leader Tom Mulcair in support of our four P's. I will circulate a draft text very soon.
Most of the emphasis in ONDP leader Andrea Horwath's presentation on Saturday was on Liberal broken promises, rising fees, the sale of public assets, and how 'democracy matters.' But not so much concern for democracy inside the NDP, apparently.
The Treasurer revealed that the Ontario party now has 22,000 members, 6,000 of whom are in PACs (i.e. they give money each month to the NDP through their bank). Some emergency resolutions passed, one supporting doctor-assisted suicide.
At the Toronto regional caucus, several delegates spoke about the Toronto Area Council decision to organize a big conference to re-launch the NDP as a municipal party. One current city councillor present, Gord Perks, inveighed against the idea, and we answered him. There will be a big fight over this issue - that much is clear.
On Sunday, the OFL report was not delivered by Sid Ryan, as he was busy elsewhere, so it lacked fire and a sharp direction.
The visiting NDP federal president's report centred on preparations for the October 19 election, on fund raising (quel surprise), along with political themes - above all, an appeal to the "middle class". The federal NDP has thus far nominated 177 candidates, 41% of whom are women. In Ontario, 57 NDP candidates are nominated. The jet and busses are booked. They're ready to roll. And the tele fund raisers will keep calling every supper hour.
I asked a question about the four P's. Got applause for three of the issues. The answer from the front table, to put it politely, was evasive.
During the weekend gathering SC members sold close to $80 in booklets, buttons and press, mostly from a display table in the corridor next to the main meeting room.
In sum: even at a poorly attended NDP provincial council meeting, where militancy is at an ebb, socialists still enjoy significant support.
Petition to Federal New Democratic Party Leader Tom Mulcair
Sign the Petition Here
We, the undersigned, applaud Federal NDP Leader Tom Mulcair for advocating a national childcare plan, a $15/hour minimum wage, and for opposing repressive Bill C-51 and the extension of the bombing of Iraq, and into Syria.
At the same time we call on Tom Mulcair to advance, as a priority, the following policies, which we call the 4 P's, as part of the current NDP election platform:
Pharmacare - a national drug plan will save Canadians over $7 billion, and is urgently needed to improve public health, especially of seniors and the poor.
Pipelines - the big drop in the price of oil presents a golden opportunity to oppose pipeline construction, to re-tool, and to go for green energy conversion (wind, hydro, solar, geothermal and biomass). To fund that gigantic energy shift it will be necessary to conscript the enormous accumulated wealth of the resource corporations by nationalizing Big Oil and Gas under workers' and community democratic control, while respecting Indigenous peoples' rights.
Progressive Taxation - it will cost much money to provide $15/day childcare and other vital social expenditures required. The federal NDP should insist, not only on plugging tax loopholes, but on steeply taxing big business, the banks and the super-rich, while phasing out the regressive HST.
Palestine - over 2,000 residents of Gaza were slaughered by Israeli forces last summer. Benjamin Netanyahu and his racist Likhud coalition were re-elected after promising there will never be a Palestinian state. The two-state solution is dead. The alternative is a one-person, one-vote, democratic secular Palestine. We ask Tom Mulcair to support the demand of Palestinian unions, civil society and unions across Canada and around the world which call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against the Zionist state until its apartheid practices end.
Sign the Petition Here
Pétition au chef fédéral du Nouveau Parti démocratique, Thomas Mulcair
Nous, les soussignés, félicitons le chef du NPD fédéral, Thomas Mulcair, de préconiser un plan national de garderies, un salaire minimum de 15 $ / heure, et de s'opposer au répressif projet de loi C-51 et à l'extension du bombardement de l'Irak et de la Syrie.
Par la même occasion, nous demandons à Tom Mulcair de se doter des priorités politiques suivantes, que nous appelons les 4 P, dans le cadre de l'actuelle plate-forme électorale du NPD :
Pharmacare - Assurance médicament - Un plan national de médicaments permettra de faire économiser aux Canadiens plus de 7 milliards de dollars. Il est urgent d'améliorer la santé publique, en particulier celle des personnes âgées et des gens pauvres.
Pipelines - La forte baisse du prix du pétrole présente une occasion en or de s'opposer à la construction de pipelines et de reconvertir l'économie canadienne vers l'énergie verte (éolienne, hydraulique, solaire, géothermique et biomasse). Pour financer ce changement gigantesque, il sera nécessaire de mobiliser l'énorme richesse accumulée des sociétés du secteur des ressources naturelles en nationalisant les transnationales du pétrole et du gaz sous le contrôle démocratique des travailleurs et travailleuses et de celui de la communauté tout en respectant les droits des peuples autochtones.
La fiscalité Progressive - Il sera très coûteux d'offrir des services de garde à 15$ par jour et d'autres dépenses sociales vitales. Le NPD fédéral devrait insister non seulement pour bloquer les échappatoires fiscales mais aussi pour imposer fortement les grandes entreprises, les banques et les super-riches tout en éliminant progressivement la régressive taxe de vente harmonisée (TVH).
Palestine - Plus de 2 000 habitants de Gaza ont été massacrés par les forces israéliennes l'été dernier. Benjamin Netanyahu et sa raciste coalition Likhud ont été réélus après avoir promis qu'il n'y aura jamais un État palestinien. La solution de deux États est morte. L'alternative est une Palestine laïque et démocratique où chaque personne a un vote. Nous demandons à Tom Mulcair de soutenir la demande des syndicats palestiniens, de la société civile et des syndicats partout au Canada et dans le monde qui appellent au Boycott, Désinvestissement et Sanctions contre l’État sioniste jusqu'à ce qu'il mette fin à ses politiques d'apartheid.
Trudeau Trying and Lying to Catch Up
by Barry Weisleder
Though the October 19 Canadian federal election is still three months away, the changing pattern of public opinion is forcing the major parties to shift gears. According to a major late-June poll, the labour-based NDP has the support of 35 per cent and is extending its lead. The governing Conservatives have fallen to 28 per cent, and the Liberal Party is down to 29 per cent.
It's no surprise that both big business parties are increasingly directing their fire at the NDP. But the Liberals, under their leader Justin Trudeau, are turning to very traditional tactics -- stealing and lying.
By advocating electoral reform that might include Proportional Representation, easier and wider access to information, and a return of the long-form census, by letting government scientists talk to the media, making it easier for university students and Canadians living abroad to vote, and stopping Canada Post from ending door to door mail delivery, the Liberals are simply copying NDP policies. They also promise to restore some social spending that Tory Prime Minister Stephen Harper cut.
But can the Liberals be trusted?
Remember the Liberal Red Book in the 1993 election campaign. P.M. Jean Chretien, and his successor Paul Martin, shredded the document and broke nearly every promise they made. Martin infamously cut 40 per cent of federal transfer monies to the provinces.
Today, Trudeau pledges to retain (with minor reforms) the appointed and highly corrupt Senate, to build more pipelines, and to support 'free' trade deals that kill good full-time jobs.
Trudeau Liberals favour tax cuts to the private sector to spur the economy. They sent Canadian soldiers to Iraq. They voted for Bill C-51, the so-called Anti-Terrorism Law. So it seems unlikely that Trudeau can get very far with his claim that he represents 'real change'.
NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, on the other hand, champions change in the form of a $15 per day national child care programme, raising the minimum wage to $15/hour, increasing Canada Pension Plan benefits, giving the cities a new deal for mass public transit, and he demands abolition of the Senate. The party also calls for removing Canadian forces from Iraq and Syria, and restoring home mail delivery. Such progressive policies helped the NDP to a shocking win in the Alberta provincial election. They can carry the labour-based party to government in Ottawa.
Mulcair would be wise to resist pressure from the business class to downplay differences with the Conservative Party, leaving that role to the Liberals. But it is up to the ranks of labour and the party membership to push the NDP towards bigger and bolder change-seeking -- like demanding national pharmacare, no new pipelines, expropriation of Big Oil and Gas to finance a rapid shift to green energy, and the implementation of steeply progressive taxation to give relief to workers, farmers and small business, and to make the rich pay.
The business media constantly remind us that the NDP is a working class party linked to the unions. So, why not make the most of it? Fan the flames of discontent with capitalist rule.
And what if the October 19 federal election results in the NDP being in first place, but no party with a majority of seats?
Socialists urge the NDP to stand firm, form a minority government, and implement policies in the interest of the working class and the vast majority. If the capitalist parties choose to vote against progressive measures and force an early election, make them bear the consequences. Rule out any notion of a coalition with the Liberals, the Bloc Quebecois or the Green Party. Despite its many shortcomings, the NDP represents the possibility of a course of action that is independent of the bosses' parties, and that must be amplified, not compromised.