For many years the NDP has thought that they are at a cross-roads. Do we move to the middle to win or do we stay where we are and continue to be a third party? As Niki Ashton alluded to in the Saskatoon debate we do not have to pick. The NDP needs to show bold alternatives. As she said “Principles lead to power. . . people ahead of profits”. As long as the NDP stays away from its socialist roots it will become more confusing to differentiate them from Liberals. I fear that Canada will lose the party with progressive potential.
As VICE showed prior to the 2015 election this move to the center did not start with Tom Mulcair. The shift to the center was already happening when Jack Layton was running the party. In 2013 the NDP removed socialism from their constitution, a move supported by the late Jack Layton. Just as socialism has seen a rise in popularity with campaigns by Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders the NDP it appears has become ashamed of it’s roots.
Have you noticed how Charlie Angus, who frequently mentions his relationship with Jack Layton, always refers to the NDP as a social democratic party and not as a democratic socialist party? A social democrat works within the capitalist system while a democratic socialist wishes to establish a socialist system to work within. As we clearly know from the Regina Manifesto the CCF, the predecessor of the NDP, wanted to eradicate the capitalist system, not work within capitalism. These are the roots that the NDP has to return to and may be difficult seeing how far we have strayed in recent years.
Or what about the the endorsement leader Jagmeet Singh? When Jagmeet began his campaign I was excited. I had been reading about Singh’s career as an MPP in Ontario and was quick to get behind him after his motion on temp work as well as his speech about Donald Trump winning the election.
But since the beginning my excitement for Jagmeet has faded. It appears as though Jagmeet is more interested in growing the party and the base than he is about policy. He keeps referring to himself as the “growth” candidate and those that have endorsed him have emulated this language. But at what expense? I fear that Jagmeet is more determined to win and will repeat the mistakes of the past in order to do it.
I think this is most evident in the way he talks about climate change, pipelines, and taxes. Singh was hesitant to come out against the Kinder Morgan and East Energy Pipelines. I fear Singh will not take the bold approach needed to combat climate change. Will he fight to stop the tar sands expansion or stop the pipelines that were proposed. To reach our goals we will need to do both.
When it comes to taxes I do not think Singh goes far enough, against out of fear of losing support. Singh’s tax proposal on capital gains only wishes to tax them at 75%. Well why not 100%? Wouldn’t 100% be more fair? While I would settle for the actual changes in Singh’s plan I would like to see a candidate show us what they prefer, not start at the settling point.
As Charlie Angus implied in last night’s debate Singh is beginning to look more like a liberal. I am worried that Singh is more interested in growing the party and winning than he is on building a strong progressive platform. And while I think that Charlie Angus is not the radical we need to lead the party he is right that to win the NDP needs to have a strong ground game and educate the public that were Trudeau ignored his promises the NDP will keep them.
This centrist movement on behalf of the NDP is the reason now, more than ever, a leader like Niki Ashton is needed. We need someone who will champion the Regina Manifesto, who will bring bold tax policies, and who will bring the NDP back to its socialist roots. This means going further back than Jack Layton to see what we once were, and what we can be again.
I support Niki Ashton and in the past I have attended a Niki Ashton fundraiser and donated to her political campaign. I think that Jagmeet Singh and Charlie Angus have good ideas for the future of the party but I wish to challenge them in other areas regarding their campaigns.