We Have 10 Questions

In the Fall of 2016 left wing activists in the labour-based New Democratic Party of Canada launched an independent campaign to draft Sid Ryan, past president of the Ontario Federation of Labour, to run for Leader of the federal NDP.  On a website, the campaign team posted a 17-point socialist policy platform to serve as the basis for his candidacy, and to influence all registered candidates in the race for NDP Leader.  Over 20,000 people visited the site to read the policies and to see videos featuring Sid speaking on political issues.
For personal reasons, Sid decided on April 26, 2017 not to run.  We respect his decision.

Still, the need for socialist leadership and a new direction for the NDP is urgent.  Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the new Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer, and most of all, the big business ruling class must be challenged from the left.

To advance that prospect the NDP Socialist Caucus decided to pose 10 Questions, to challenge the registered candidates to state clearly where they stand on those issues and the 17-point platform.  Based on the responses we get, the Socialist Caucus will seriously consider whether to support one or none of the contenders.

At the same time, the SC continues to protest the undemocratic entry fee and rules imposed by NDP officials that unduly restrict who can run.

The NDP Socialist Caucus, founded in 1998, is the organized left wing of North America’s only mass, working class political party.  The SC has hundreds of members and supporters across the country who actively participate in the NDP at all levels. It persuaded the party to demand Canadian Forces out of Afghanistan in 2006.  It played a pivotal role in launching the leadership review in 2016 that is forcing NDP federal Leader Tom Mulcair to step aside at the conclusion of the present leadership race in October 2017.  The SC got the party at its 2016 federal convention to launch a national discussion of the Leap Manifesto.  In April of this year it successfully pushed the Ontario NDP, at its convention, to embrace public pharma care, dental care, the re-nationalization of Hydro One, and free post-secondary education.

In a federal leadership race dominated, so far, by the politics of identity, a race in which the political differences between the candidates are often blurred, the SC endeavours to put the focus on policy and on issues that matter most to the working class — to marginalized, alienated and disenfranchised people.  To that end, it calls on all the registered candidates for Leader to answer the 10 Questions, directly, clearly and without delay.

Here are the 10 Questions.  Please copy and share them widely:

1.The benefits of robotization and new technologies generally should be shared, not utilized to make the owners super rich and to drive more workers into poverty. Do you commit that under your leadership the NDP will fight for a reduction in the work week without a loss in pay or benefits?

2. About 235,000 Canadians become homeless every year, with 35,000 sleeping in shelters and on the streets on any given night. 1.7 million are unable to afford adequate, suitable shelter.  Do you commit that under your leadership the NDP will demand the construction of half a million quality social housing units by means of a publicly-owned land assembly and housing construction enterprise?

3.   For decades, NDP leaders have gone along with the New Cold War against Russia and China, and backed western military intervention abroad, including the bombing of Libya. Do you commit that under your leadership the NDP will demand that Canada get out of NATO immediately?

4.   Do you commit that under your leadership the NDP will actively support the worldwide campaign backed by unions and parliamentary bodies to effect Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against the Zionist apartheid state until its occupation of the West Bank ends?

5.  Do you commit that under your leadership the NDP will demand a steeply progressive tax system, including the following measures:

a) Tax Capital Gains Income at the same rate as employment income, bringing in $8 billion dollars

b) Increase the Corporate Tax rate from 15% to 21%, bringing in $9 billion dollars

c) Eliminate corporate stock options as a benefit, with a net savings of $600 million

d) Cut Justin Trudeau’s “middle class tax cut” and enhance the Guaranteed Income Supplement and Child Benefits,   and

e) Increase income tax for earners with income over $200,000 to 40%, and for earners with income over $900,000 to 50%.

6.  Do you commit that under your leadership the NDP will demand greatly expanded public ownership and economic democracy to include Canada’s railway system, major hydro, oil, gas and other energy corporations, the giant telecoms, and at least two of the major banks?

7.  Do you commit that under your leadership the NDP will fight for a Green Industrial Revolution to shift rapidly from carbon and nuclear energy towards safe, clean and renewable energy technologies, and that this rapid transition be funded by conscripting the profits of big oil and gas, and put a high priority on the employment of displaced, indigenous and young workers?

8.  For indigenous peoples, it’s time not just for “reconciliation” but restitution.  If diamond mining corporations in the north can provide their employees world class housing, food, healthcare and recreation, they should do no less for Canada’s original peoples who deserve to share the wealth that has been plundered, or the resource extraction firms should face expropriation.  Do you agree with that, and commit to a policy of No More Pipelines?

9.  The NDP should be transformed from a mainly electoral machine into a vast social movement that fosters greater democracy.  Do you commit that under your leadership the NDP will partner with unions and social justice groups, ensure more time for policy debate at its conventions, and make them more accessible rather than use them chiefly as a fund-raising exercise?  Do you commit to end the present practice that allows party leaders to ignore adopted policies?  Do you commit to increase funding of Electoral District Associations and put an end to top-down interference with local candidate nominations?

10.  Do you commit that under your leadership the NDP will fight for a national Pharmacare and Dental Care programme, and a national $10 a day quality childcare service, to be funded by steeply progressive taxation?

We want answers.  The NDP Socialist Caucus is posing questions to the registered candidates for federal NDP Leader because we think that party members deserve to know where the candidates stand – beyond vague generalities and broad slogans.  Do you agree?  Would you like to help?  See the SC’s 17-point platform for socialist leadership at:  http://www.ndpsocialists.ca/   Call us at:  647-986-1917.