Tag Archives: NDP

Singh drifts left, Horwath treads water

by Barry W.

The convention was on Andrea Horwath’s home turf, but Jagmeet Singh stole the show.  The federal New Democratic Party leader grabbed national headlines when he spoke to Ontario NDP delegates about his New Deal for People.  It seeks to expand public health care to include universal pharma care by 2020, followed by free dental, vision, hearing, mental health services, long term home care and addictions treatment.  He proposes to pay for it by upping the federal corporate income tax from 15 to 18 per cent, and by creating a new, 1 per cent tax on people whose net worth is more than $20 million.  In a break from Tom Mulcair’s no-deficit, soft-austerity 2015 campaign, Singh vowed to fund green programs and infrastructure through a new $3 billion “climate bank”, to push to retrofit all buildings by 2050 (in the process creating 300,00 new jobs), and to build 500,000 new affordable housing units within a decade.

Ontario leader Horwath, on the other hand, demonstrated why her party is stagnant.  She repeatedly showcased her caucus of MPPs and paraded a bunch of talking heads.  They offered anti-Doug Ford rhetoric, decried wildfires and floodwaters, said ‘me-too’ for pharma care, and issued platitudes for a more just society.  Even her “Green New Democratic Deal” is mainly a 28-page discussion paper rather than a policy.  It fails (as does Singh) to challenge monopoly control of the carbon-fueled economy.

The ONDP and labour bureaucracy tightly controlled the June 14-16 convention in Hamilton.  They stifled criticism.  You wouldn’t know that thousands of auto workers’ jobs are being buried. The top brass put innovative, radical resolutions at the bottom of every topic list.  The leadership exhibited little sense of urgency about removing the Ford Conservative regime despite its onslaught against workers and the environment. A blinkered obsession with preparations for the 2022 Ontario election, three years down the road, ruled the roost. 

Party chief of staff Michael Balagas provided a laughably Pollyanna interpretation of the latest public opinion polls (showing the Tories, NDP and Liberals close together, and the Green Party rising fast).

Identity politics and milquetoast motions dominated the proceedings.  The agenda imposed by the top brass devoted less than 39 per cent of the convention time to policy discussion.  The rest of the time filled up with ‘showcases’, guest speakers (including Dan Riffle from Wall Street’s, war-mongering Democratic Party USA), ‘breakout’ sessions for chatter but not for voting on policy, the numerous elections, and plenty of procedural wrangling.  Cutting, shrinking or reassigning such agenda items to the margins could have restored hours of rank and file democracy to the gathering.  Late starts (delegates were locked out of the main hall after Saturday lunch, and again on Sunday morning), squandered a further 40 minutes of precious policy time.  When, in the opening minutes, Socialist Caucus member Elizabeth Byce asked the convention chair why so little time was scheduled for policy matters, the chair rudely interrupted her with an abrupt “We will cover as much policy as possible.”  But that was a dead letter from the word go.

This is not to say that many of the adopted resolutions are not worthy – just that several were adopted nearly unanimously. They consumed scarce time that could have been spent addressing controversial issues submitted by dozens of local NDP district associations.

Adopted resolutions included: “Policy Sunset and Reaffirmation Resolution”, “Stop the Legalized Theft of Workers’ Pensions”, “Replacing the Term Aboriginal with Indigenous”, “Equity-Seeking ‘Victory Funds’” (to raise money for campaigns that feature visible minority and female NDP candidates); “Cannabis Growers Workers”; “Expand the Powers of the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario”; “End Hallway Medicine”; “Opioid Crisis”; “Full Day Kindergarten”; “Health and Phys Ed”; “Black Canadian Curriculum”; “First Nations Job Creation”; and “Development without Displacement”.  Again, these motions could have been approved, omnibus-style, with one vote.  Their positioning effectively scuppered other issues.

Multiply-endorsed resolutions that officials prevented from reaching the convention floor included: “Nationalize GM”; “Share the Work, Shorten the Work Week”; “Dump Doug Ford with Mass Extra-parliamentary Action”; “Social Ownership and Economic Democracy”; “For Public Ownership of Telecom”; “Boycott apartheid Israel, End the Siege of Gaza, uphold Palestinian Rights”; “NDP should be clear: Hands Off Venezuela”; “Eliminate Tuition, Ancillary Fees and Student Debt”; “Public and Democratic Hydro”; and “Build Social Housing as an Emergency Priority in Ontario” (12 different affiliates submitted that one!).

A Left Break-through

A weak resolution titled “GM Jobs”, was referred back to the appeals committee with instructions on Saturday.  In the last minutes of the convention on Sunday, after obtaining unanimous consent, it returned to the floor.  Added were the words “including a new vision of a publicly owned facility that could produce green vehicles and/or any other product that meets public need in order to face the climate crisis and transition to a green new economy.”  Oshawa delegate Rebecca Keetch spoke forcefully to the imminent loss of 5,000 jobs, including her own.  Convention finally adopted the motion, in part due to the SC resolution calling for Nationalization of GM, and thanks to our collaboration with CUPE-Ontario President Fred Hahn, whose dogged efforts paved the way for this small victory.

As seen at the federal NDP convention in Ottawa, February 2018, Palestine shook things up.  But a motion to appeal its low rank on the list of resolutions simply ran out of time for consideration.  Only ten minutes are allowed for appeals from the floor in each policy segment.  The right wing stacked the mics to ensure that left wing appeals would not be heard.

The Resolutions Appeals Committee, chaired by former federal leader candidate Brian Topp, became a lightning rod for discontent.  Several times it suffered defeat on the convention floor as exasperated delegates fought its status quo priorities.  In defiance, a policy to reduce the voting age in Ontario to 14 years carried. Likewise, delegates defeated “Support for Mobile Crisis Response” that relied heavily on police involvement, a motion backed by the party establishment.

Socialists steadfast

An appetite for radical left media was evident.  Delegates snapped up over 500 copies of Turn Left, the glossy, full-colour Socialist Caucus magazine (www.ndpsocialists.ca) .  Donations on site added to the $3,300 raised to fund the publication prior to the convention. Scores of delegates bought copies of Socialist Action monthly newspaper.

NDP staff had said “No literature display tables will be allowed”, although the Ontario Federation of Labour and the Broadbent Institute each got one. Nonetheless, the Socialist Caucus found a way to display its materials, as did former OFL president Sid Ryan who sold copies of his new book “A Grander Vision.”

The convention was poorly attended.  Party officials predicted 1,500 delegates.  The last Credentials Report, claiming that 1,045 attended, tried to bandage this raw sore.  The fact is that only 720 delegates voted for President and Treasurer.  Only 730 voted for V.P. candidates. Fewer than 530 voted for Members At Large. Most of the time, empty chairs outnumbered occupied seats.

Support for Andrea Horwath (expressed in a leadership review vote) was underwhelming.  The norm is 95%+ for a Leader (especially one who made major gains at the previous provincial election).  As Toronto Star columnist Rick Salutin wrote on June 21, “She got 84 per cent support at last week’s NDP convention, not a healthy sign. If her party were serious about power, there’d have been more dissension.”

Socialist Caucus candidates garnered 12.2 to 27 per cent of the votes for the 15 top executive positions that the SC contested. Over 200 delegates marked ballots for Julius Arscott for V.P.  He told the convention, “The NDP must call for mass action, including general strike action, to defeat the Doug Ford/Bay Street agenda. Some may say that is labour’s jurisdiction. But the NDP is directly tied to the struggles of the working class.  We have a huge stake in this fight!”

The establishment slate swept, as expected.  Sadly, independent socialist candidates (like Jessa McLean and Tim Ellis) failed to break through.  A united front socialist slate would surely help in the future.  Once again, the Socialist Caucus provided the most visible, principled, all-round left opposition – and it demonstrated growing support.  A ‘Meet the Socialist Candidates’ pub night attracted a big crowd on Saturday. 

Dozens of new contacts, new volunteers for the SC steering committee, new subscribers to the left press, added to the positive political harvest for class struggle activists.  While it is clear that NDP officials will not lead the fight in the streets against the arch-austerity corporate agenda, they may be compelled to join an upsurge as teachers, and other public and private sector workers suffering job loss and frozen wages, gird for a hot autumn.

 

Horgan’s BC NDP sells out to LNG Canada

By Gary Porter

A massive liquefied natural gas (LNG) export project in Canada received final approval by LNG Canada and its partners on October 2, making it the first major new project for the fuel to win approval in recent years.

TransCanada (pipeline) Corporation also announced that it will proceed with construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline project after the decision to go ahead by LNG Canada. The $6.2 billion project is a 670-kilometre (420 mile) pipeline that would transport natural gas from the Montney gas-producing region near Dawson Creek, B.C. to the LNG Canada facility in Kitimat on BC’s Pacific coast. First gas from the project is expected by 2024. The complex course through rocky islands out to sea was a factor in the cancellation of a planned oil pipeline to Kitimat, with delivery to awaiting huge oil tankers.

The total project is estimated to cost $40 billion. Stakeholders in the project are Shell, Malaysia’s Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas), PetroChina Co Ltd, Korea Gas Corp (KOGAS) and Japan’s Mitsubishi Corp.

The BC Premier, John Horgan of the labour-based New Democratic Party (NDP) government, enthused about this new massive commitment to a hydrocarbon future. “We welcome the unprecedented commitment shown by the LNG Canada partners to work within our province’s ambitious climate goals,” he said in the same statement. “The critical importance of this project is what it represents — the intersecting of economic development, jobs for local workers, partnerships with Indigenous communities and forward-looking climate leadership.”

Provincial Green party Leader Andrew Weaver called the announcement a “profound disappointment.” Countering Horgan’s list of “advantages” to Canadians on a point by point basis, Weaver said, “Adding such a massive new source of GHGs (greenhouse gases) means that the rest of our economy will have to make even more sacrifices to meet our climate targets. A significant portion of the LNG Canada investment will be spent on a plant manufactured overseas, with steel sourced from other countries.”

“B.C. taxpayers will subsidize its power by paying rates twice as high and taking on the enormous public debt required to build Site C. (The massive power dam on the Peace River approved by Horgan last December, will serve the LNG development, which is a big user of electrical power.) There may be as little as 100 permanent jobs at LNG Canada.”

“I believe we can create far more jobs in other industries that won’t drastically increase our emissions.”, added Weaver.

Still, Weaver’s Green Party does not challenge capitalism. Weaver wants to manage capitalism better, not get rid of the system that puts profits before survival. He does not advocate nationalizing and rapidly phasing out hydrocarbons, as the NDP Socialist Caucus does. Nor does he advocate a publicly owned massive green energy system which could create tens of thousands of jobs and dramatically cut GHGs in short order.

Horgan’s enthusiasm for the massive LNG project, matches NDP Premier Rachel Notley’s shrill advocacy of tar sands and pipelines in Alberta. Both demonstrate that the NDP leadership is deeply committed to the profits of the oil barons more than to the environment on which we depend for life.

There is no word yet from Jagmeet Singh, Federal NDP leader currently running in Burnaby South for a seat in parliament. The electoral district is a centre of Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion opposition. Singh may find himself in a very uncomfortable position. His inept leadership over his first year in office does not portend a nimble response from him

In its own statement, Mitsubishi said the total estimated development cost of the planned Kitimat LNG plant is about US $14 billion. The cost of the liquefaction plant and a 670-kilometre pipeline to connect gas to the plant will exceed 2 trillion yen (US $17.6 billion), a company official said. The project will create of a lot of jobs in Japan, apparently.

The construction decision also comes amid a Sino-U.S. trade spat that has led to tariffs being imposed by China on LNG shipments from the United States, threatening U.S. President Donald Trump’s energy dominance plan. This project could bypass the Chinese tariffs.

Premier John Horgan says his government is mulling ways to implement all of the tax giveaways and relief for the LNG Canada project without a vote in the legislature, a scenario that would avoid a showdown with the NDP’s power-sharing partner, the B.C. Green Party.

In March, Horgan’s government promised LNG Canada about $5.3 billion in tax breaks. This leaves BC workers and the poor to carry the tax load while global capitalist corporations pay little or no tax.

As expected, Wilkinson’s right wing Liberals issued a statement saying they have supported LNG from the outset and are looking forward to backing any legislation concerning the Kitimat project.

Unnamed government officials said B.C.’s proposed climate plan will be designed to meet legislated targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent by 2030, 60 per cent by 2040 and 80 per cent (or 13 mega tonnes) by 2050.

Much of the reduction, they claim, will be achieved by B.C. moving towards electrification, primarily in the transportation and industrial sectors. The officials said the plan will offer industry rebates on carbon tax payments if they meet global clean-energy targets.

But B.C. government staff are working based on LNG Canada’s claim that the project is forecast to emit 3.45 megatons of greenhouse gas emissions annually.

By contrast, a Maclean’s magazine editorial stated that LNG Canada represents roughly 10 million tonnes of CO2-equivalent per year. This is one quarter of B.C.’s entire greenhouse-gas budget for 2030, or two-thirds of B.C.’s 2050 target. In other words, to meet B.C.’s emissions targets and serve LNG Canada, the rest of the province will need largely to decarbonize. So, the LNG development seems inconsistent with Canada’s commitment to climate action. How will a government that caves in to the hydro carbon giants, have the guts to force through such a massive change?

Like virtually all GHG reduction targets set under capitalism, they come a distant second to the priorities of profit and accumulation of vast wealth by the capitalist class.  Horgan in BC, the NDP government under Rachel Notley in Alberta, and Liberal Justin Trudeau in Ottawa will strive to ensure that this continues.

Along with the massive Site C power dam decision, this LNG betrayal makes clear that the struggle to defend Indigenous rights and the environment is not centred in parliament. It should be powered by united mass action in the streets.

British Columbia Turns Left

by Caitlin Brown

The May 9 election in British Columbia (B.C.) showed a dramatic attempt by voters to break from 16 years of austerity under the Liberal Party towards a left social democratic program. Like other regions of Canada, the western-most province was hit hard by the 2008/9 economic meltdown; its staple natural resource industries, fishing, mining and forestry, are plagued by continuing lay-offs and now face U.S. President Donald Trump’s tariffs. Intense real estate speculation fostered immense income inequality. The shift to the left electorally was a response to this situation.

Continue reading British Columbia Turns Left

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.