Jagmeet Singh’s election as federal party leader is, at least in part, the revenge of the NDP top brass and the liberal media establishment. They never forgave the party and labour union ranks for forcing the leadership review that ultimately deposed Tom Mulcair following his disastrous 2015 election campaign. Enormous resources were marshaled to portray Brampton, Ontario MPP Singh as “an outsider” and a “fresh face” with a cool, hipster image who can challenge Justin Trudeau for “middle class” allegiances.
But what’s in it, concretely, for the working class? What does it mean for the vast majority of Canadians who are the victims of capitalist austerity, growing inequality, and environmental chaos?
While barely over half of the eligible party members voted, Singh’s first ballot victory inclines many to think that he embodies meaningful racial and generational change. So, it will be crucial to hold him accountable, to insist that he not retreat even from his sparse ‘progressive’ policies, and furthermore, to demand a bold socialist alternative to Trudeau’s Harper-lite regimen. This should include public ownership of the energy sector, and attention to the much-ignored issues of foreign policy: BDS and justice for Palestine, getting Canada out of NATO, and reducing the military budget, which Trudeau just increased by a whopping 70 per cent.
Illusions in Singh may soon be dashed. This is a time of social upheaval, from indigenous Caledonia, to Catalonia in the Spanish state. Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders showed that the open road is to the left, not the centre. Thus, now is the time to fight for a Workers’ Agenda, for socialism, inside the only mass, labour-based political party in North America.
The NDP Socialist Caucus recognizes the huge opportunity and the heavy responsibility to unite all anti-capitalists and social justice fighters inside and outside the NDP. We invite Niki Ashton MP, her supporters, and all leftist backers of the other candidates, to come together now. With conservative forces dominating at the summit of the NDP and labour unions, the space is open for an insurgent, militant left wing in the major working class institutions, organizing from the bottom-up.
The Socialist Caucus national conference, to be held on Saturday, December 2 at the University of Toronto’s Woodsworth College Residence, may be a turning point.
Together, we can unite the left and build on the momentum that caused the NDP leadership candidates to tack to the left. The working class needs socialist solutions to the crisis of capitalism and to counteract the rise of the alt-right.
We can, and we will, advance… Socialist policies. More democratic debate. Socialist candidates for federal NDP executive. Direct action against capitalist austerity.
Get ready for the NDP Federal Convention, February 16-18, 2018 in Ottawa. Stoke your ideas and your energy.
Register now for the NDP Socialist Caucus conference in Toronto on Saturday, December 2.
Photo: CHRIS SO / TORONTO STAR