Campaign for Socialism and Democracy in NDP

by Kiri Vadivelu | 3 min. read politics

Exceptionally weak NDP policy and leadership account for failure of New Democratic Party

After nearly four years of the most regressive, incompetent and corrupt Ontario government in decades, opinions polls show the Doug Ford Conservatives leading and the New Democratic mired in third place, well behind Liberals, on the eve of June 2 provincial election.

Campaign for Socialism and Democracy in NDP
Campaign for Socialism and Democracy | © Kiri Vadivelu

How is this possible? Only exceptionally weak NDP policy and leadership can account for this disturbing situation. It’s certainly not a function of popular satisfaction with the status quo.

Before the onset of the current third wave of the pandemic, the economy was slowly emerging from depression. Suddenly, millions of workers found themselves without emergency benefits, without employment insurance, and still without extended paid sick leave. Giant corporations, including retail chains, big-pharma, telecoms and banks, have reaped billions of dollars in profit over the past two years.

Not only do they pay minimal taxes -- they derive huge subsidies from the government. The priority of the bosses remains to build super-highways, not homes; to fund pipelines, police and the military, not provide clean water on Indigenous lands; to extend licenses for private profit-gouging Long Term Care firms rather than to extend non-profit quality public health care to include seniors, medical drugs and mental health.

Inequality is rising, stoked by the flames of inflation. Staggering increases in the cost of food, fuel and rent are a cause of stress that is taking a high toll, especially on young workers who see no future for themselves, or for the natural environment, under the capitalist system.

But there are signs of growing resistance. In- creasing strike activity indicates organized labour is emboldened at a time of staff shortages in some sectors. In September there were 44 work stoppages, the most in one month since 2018. Casino workers in Belleville negotiated a 13 per cent pay increase over 3 years. Thousands of workers at a Cargill meat packing plant in Alberta threatened strike action and made gains. Thousands of public sector workers went on strike in New Brunswick to blunt the attacks of the Higgs-Tory regime. Congratulations to Canada Goose employees in Winnipeg who won union recognition. Even non-union workers are doing better, posting increases of 9 per cent over the past two years, according to Statistics Canada.

The rank and file are restless. That was evident in substantial support for the radical Workers’ Action Movement candidates for executive at recent conventions of the Ontario Federation of Labour in early November and at the Canadian Labour Congress in June 2021.

A strike wave is underway in the United States. Teamsters for a Democratic Union won control of the giant North American Teamsters’ Union in a ground-breaking election. Canadian economist David Card won the Nobel Prize in economics for showing that a rise in the minimum wage does NOT reduce employment. In other words, 'Dare to struggle, dare to win!'.

But how daring, how bold has the NDP leadership been? The federal election on September 20 was a saddening milepost along the wrong road. While the NDP is a party based on working class institutions, with trade unions represented directly at NDP conventions, it is burdened by a right wing, pro-capitalist, undemocratic leadership. More undemocratic than ever, the NDP brass increasingly hand-picks candidates without holding a local nomination meeting.

This is done often to exclude social- ist contenders. NDP officials spent most of the party’s federal campaign money on the Leader’s tour and TV ads, over half of an unprecedented treasure chest of $25 million. Read more

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