ONDP’s Horwath shifts slightly to the left

During the three days of the Ontario NDP Convention, April 21–23 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, the party’s left wing won several significant policy and procedural victories.  Leader Andrea Horwath adapted to the situation, somewhat desperate to present a progressive face to the sparse crowd, and to a somewhat indifferent electorate.  The provincial Liberal government of Kathleen Wynne is in crisis, while the Tories led by Patrick Brown hold the lead in the latest opinion polls.

‘Pharmacare for Everyone’ is now a central plank in the NDP platform for the 2018 Ontario provincial election.  Dental Care was part of the same policy adopted, but so far is being ignored by Horwath.  Still, the gain registered for free medical drugs coverage is major, and it is in large part due to the foundation building work and steady agitation of the Socialist Caucus over the past five years.  Moreover, it took a successful floor challenge to the resolutions appeal committee, which tried to bury these linked issues in a long list of motions.

Similarly, delegates raised the priority of a resolution calling for free post-secondary education, and passed it handily.  This was a welcome riposte to Horwath who sidelined a similar policy adopted at the previous provincial convention. A motion calling for a big increase in welfare rates carried too.

In the mandatory Leadership Review vote, 89 per cent said no to opening up a leadership contest.  This was hardly a surprise given that the next provincial election is a mere 14 months away.  Noteworthy is the fact that over 11 per cent expressed non-confidence in Horwath so late in the process, reflecting simmering discontent with the 2014 ONDP election campaign and the leader’s performance since then.

Former OFL President Sid Ryan made two inspiring speeches at a floor mic.  One called for public ownership of Hydro in its entirety.  That prompted Horwath to quote Ryan, somewhat sheepishly but approvingly, and state that the party will strive for public ownership of both electricity generation and transmission lines in Ontario.

Scores of delegates wore SID stickers, encouraging him to run for federal NDP Leader.  The four registered NDP Leader candidates (Peter Julian, Niki Ashton, Guy Caron and Charlie Angus) cruised the outer hallway, chatting and glad-handing, but not matching the excitement that Sid Ryan and the left generated.  Sadly, on April 26, Ryan pulled the plug on his potential candidacy, citing personal reasons, plus his lack of French.

Socialist Caucus members distributed nearly 600 copies of Turn Left magazine, and collected over $245 in donations.  And that was quite an achievement, given that this ONDP convention was rather poorly attended.  According to the Credentials Committee, only 738 delegates arrived, out of 1059 who “registered”, and 1347 who were eligible to participate.  An underwhelming turnout of 54 per cent of those eligible to be delegates should be a source of concern for the party brass.

Socialist Caucus and Momentum candidates for provincial Executive did well.  They received 7.4 to 40 per cent of the votes cast by delegates in a range of elections, held either on the main floor or in regional caucus meetings.  Dirka Prout, John Orrett, Jason Baines and this writer earned the best results. This represents an improvement on our average scores at the federal NDP convention in Edmonton in April 2016.

The low attendance resulted in a dip in sales of socialist newspapers and literature.  Despite a lack of cooperation from the party brass, the SC seized and enjoyed the use of a good space for a literature table and banner.

Conclusion apparent:  even at an ONDP convention such as this, it is clear that radical socialists can count on a significant base of support, demonstrating strong roots, and showing the progress of efforts to construct a revolutionary presence inside the actually existing workers’ movement in English Canada.

by Barry Weisleder

SOCIALISM 2017 videos are now available online

The Relevance of the Russian Revolution Today

Speakers:

  • Jeff Mackler, national secretary, SA USA
  • Barry Weisleder, federal secretary, SA Canada
  • Aurélien Perenna, teacher and union activist of the New Anti-capitalist Party, France.

Videos:

Part 1:

Part 2: 

Q and A: 


Millions on the Move: Behind the Refugee Crisis

Speakers:

  • Jaime Gonzales, LUS-Mexico
  • Sharmeen Khan, No One Is Illegal
  • Yasin Kaya, SA-Canada
  • Nikolas Skoufoglu, a leader of OKDE, section of the Fourth International in Greece.

Videos:

    Part 1: 
    Q and A: 

Basic Income or Raise the Rates?

Speakers:

  • John Clarke, provincial organizer, Ontario Coalition Against Poverty
  • Sharon Anderson from Put Food In the Budget

Videos:

    Part 1: 
    Q and A: 

Fake News: Who’s the Real Culprit?

Speakers:

  • Yves Engler (author of 8 books on Canadian foreign policy, including “Propaganda System”)
  • Jeff Mackler, national secretary, SA USA
  • John Wunderlich, Toronto Danforth NDP executive member and privacy issues consultant.

Videos:

    Part 1: 
    Part2: 
      Q and A:

 


Labour Revivial: What will it take?

Speakers:

  • Sid Ryan, past-president of the Ontario Federation of Labour
  • Julius Arscott, Executive Board member of OPSEU
  • Aurélien Perenna, teacher and union activist of the New Anti-capitalist Party, France.

Videos:

Part 1:

Part 2:

A short report on the Ontario NDP Convention… and related texts

During the three days of the Ontario NDP Convention, April 21-23 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, the party’s left wing won several significant policy and procedural victories. Leader Andrea Horwath adapted to the situation, somewhat desperate to present a progressive face to the sparse crowd, and to a somewhat indifferent electorate. The provincial Liberal government of Kathleen Wynne is in crisis, while the Tories led by Patrick Brown hold the lead in the latest opinion polls. Continue reading A short report on the Ontario NDP Convention… and related texts

Spring 2017 Rebel Films series concluded

Spring 2017 Rebel Films series concluded with the screening of “The Killings of Tony Blair” on April 13 at U of T.

This 21st edition of the Socialist Action-sponsored series, now in its twelfth year, was one of the best, with between 40 and 60 people present for each of the screenings.

In the photo below, see guest speaker Jason Baines, a leader of NDP Momentum, address the topic of the riveting film about how the former British PM and Labour Party leader nearly destroyed the party and became very rich in the process of cutting welfare, privatizing industries, and serving as a tool for western military intervention, especially in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

Next up:

  • Toronto’s 31st Annual Socialist May Day Celebration with speakers and entertainers. Saturday, April 29, 2017   7 p.m.
    Free Times Cafe, 320 College St., (2 blocks west of Spadina) Toronto, Ontario. Admission:  $10 waged, $5 non-waged or PWYC. More info.
  • Socialism 2017:  100 Years of World Revolution,   an International Educational Conference – May 12–13, 2017
    at Woodsworth Residence, U of T, 321 Bloor St. W. at St. George   (in room 35, lower level)
    co-sponsored by: Socialist Action / Ligue pour l’Action socialiste – Canadian state, Socialist Action – USA, the Socialist Unity League (Liga Unidad Socialista) – Mexico, and New Anti-Capitalist Party (NPA) – France. More info.

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The Political Situation in Canada Today, and How Revolutionary Socialists Intervene in the Workers’ Movement

Barry Weisleder

[Speech to Kurdish people, April 9, 2017, in Scarborough.]

Ewara bash. (Good afternoon.) Choni? (How are you?) Bigi! (Long live)

Please pardon my poor pronunciation.  You may be relieved to learn that the rest of my remarks will be in English.  As a socialist, I am an internationalist who believes that solidarity knows no boundaries.  My party, Socialist Action, stands in total solidarity with the struggle of the Kurdish people for self-determination.  We condemn imperialism, and all the governments under its influence that have denied the Kurdish people a state you can call your own. National liberation is a precondition for the emancipation of the working class internationally.

My task today is to begin a dialog with you about the present political situation, and how socialists intervene in the workers’ movement in this country to improve living conditions and to advance the socialist transformation of society.

Continue reading The Political Situation in Canada Today, and How Revolutionary Socialists Intervene in the Workers’ Movement

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