A Bold Yes: The Beauty of The Leap Manifesto

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This week I picked up No Is Not Enough by Naomi Klein at my local bookstore. It is Naomi Klein’s guide to combating the Trump administration as well as alt-right movements across the world. Naomi starts with looking at historical aspects that lead to Trump and how horrible it could get. But it also shows that there is hope.

As the title suggests saying no is not enough. We need to have political parties that are giving a resounding yes. Parties that are pushing for policies of substance. We can see this in the recent special election failures of the Democrats.

In the final few chapters of her book, Naomi outlines how The Leap Manifesto, a document she helped write, came about. The Leap Manifesto is a beautifully written intersectional document focusing on changes that need to be brought about in Canadian politics (You can find 15 of it’s demands at the end of this post). The thing about the Leap Manifesto is that it understands intersectionality.

Intersectionality is the understanding that there are overlapping elements that impact one another. Typically policy on childcare, the minimum wage, renewable energy, indigenous rights, gender and racial equity, education, and healthcare are kept separate. The Leap Manifesto brings them all together in a four page document. It recognizes that preventing climate change it is not just stopping pipeline creation. The Leap Manifesto wants to promote 100% renewables but at the same time push for a change in lifestyle and promoting those fields that are less carbon intense like childcare, the arts, and sustainable agriculture.

The Leap Manifesto does not want to make small changes here and there. It wants to make bold, radical changes. It wants to change the nature of the Canada.

Another value of the Leap Manifesto is that it brought people from all walks of life who had different ideas together. They started out by saying we are not going to value one of these things over the other. They are all important and we will work together to get them done.

Politicians are skilled at pitting one group against another. Justin Trudeau is doing this with pipelines and Donald Trump did this frequently in the last campaign by making it appear that labour and environmental groups cannot coincide. The truth is that renewable energy employs more people than traditional fossil fuels. The problem is that we lack programs to help those working in the fossil fuel industry get retrained. Which is where a strong, nationalised education and a basic income comes in. If workers can be trained and paid at the same time it will be an easier transition. The good thing is that we can afford the leap if we prioritize.

Rick Salutin recently wrote

“Forget about starting new left-wing parties. You can actually work within corrupt cadavers like Labour and the Democrats, aspire to take them over, and move on to power. I’d never have believed it but the evidence is there.”

We have seen Labour behind Jeremy Corbyn and the Democrats with Bernie Sanders make tremendous strides pushing for socialism. If there is anything I have learned over the last few years it is we, the people, who need to take back politics and represent ourselves. Capitalism and capitalists are only interested in themselves. We need to push for a society which values the collective over individuals and money.

In Canada we need to push the NDP to endorse The Leap Manifesto at the national level. We can do this by influencing the current leadership debate and pressuring them to address The Leap. It can no longer be the same old same old neoliberal politics we have seen for too long. We need a bold proposal, especially from the left.

So I urge you to endorse The Leap Manifesto and push for a just, intersectional future. Engage in local politics and volunteer with organizations that are making a difference in your community.

Fifteen Leap Manifesto Demands

  1. The leap must begin by respecting the inherent rights and title of the original caretakers of this land, starting by fully implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
  2. The latest research shows we could get 100% of our electricity from renewable resources within two decades; by 2050 we could have a 100% clean economy. We demand that this shift begin now.
  3. No new infrastructure projects that lock us into increased extraction decades into the future. The new iron law of energy development must be: if you wouldn’t want it in your backyard, then it doesn’t belong in anyone’s backyard.
  4. The time for energy democracy has come: wherever possible, communities should collectively control new clean energy systems. Indigenous Peoples and others on the frontlines of polluting industrial activity should be first to receive public support for their own clean energy projects.
  5. We want a universal program to build and retrofit energy efficient housing, ensuring that the lowest income communities will benefit first.
  6. We want high-speed rail powered by just renewables and affordable public transit to unite every community in this country – in place of more cars, pipelines and exploding trains that endanger and divide us.
  7. We want training and resources for workers in carbon-intensive jobs, ensuring they are fully able to participate in the clean energy economy.
  8. We need to invest in our decaying public infrastructure so that it can withstand increasingly frequent extreme weather events.
  9. We must develop a more localized and ecologically-based agricultural system to reduce reliance on fossil fuels, absorb shocks in the global supply – and produce healthier and more affordable food for everyone.
  10. We call for an end to all trade deals that interfere with our attempts to rebuild local economies, regulate corporations and stop damaging extractive projects.
  11. We demand immigration status and full protection for all workers. Canadians can begin to rebalance the scales of climate justice by welcoming refugees and migrants seeking safety and a better life.
  12. We must expand those sectors that are already low-carbon: caregiving, teaching, social work, the arts and public-interest media. A national childcare program is long past due.
  13. Since so much of the labour of caretaking – whether of people or the planet – is currently unpaid and often performed by women, we call for a vigorous debate about the introduction of a universal basic annual income.
  14. We declare that “austerity” is a fossilized form of thinking that has become a threat to life on earth. The money we need to pay for this great transformation is available — we just need the right policies to release it. An end to fossil fuel subsidies. Financial transaction taxes. Increased resource royalties. Higher income taxes on corporations and wealthy people. A progressive carbon tax. Cuts to military spending.
  15. We must work swiftly towards a system in which every vote counts and corporate money is removed from political campaigns.

This transformation is our sacred duty to those this country harmed in the past, to those suffering needlessly in the present, and to all who have a right to a bright and safe future.

Now is the time for boldness.

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