Another Election — To Our North — But Where a Labor Party Vote Can Count

Canadian Socialist Action Statement on the November 27 Election

We reprint for our readers’ interest the following statement on the Canadian elections, which was e-mailed to our magazine in late October The New Democratic Party (NDP), for all its failings, is a labor party based on major Canadian trade unions. Click here for Canadian Socialist Action.

On November 27:
Vote NDP
Fight for a Workers’ Agenda
Fight for Socialist Policies

In the current cross-Canada federal election campaign, all the major bosses’ parties stand on the same basic political program. They want to accelerate the dismantling of the welfare state, to smash the rights and gains won through generations of workers’ struggles, and to promote big business on a global scale. Between the Liberals, the new Alliance (CRAP), the old Conservatives, and the Bloc Québécois, the differences are only minor and tactical. They all front for factions of the capitalist ruling class, all heading down the same path of human misery and environmental destruction on a planetary scale.

The New Democratic Party, on the other hand, is the only mass, labor-based political party in North America. It has 80,000 individual members and over 300,000 workers affiliated to the party through dozens of unions. The NDP is the product of generations of class struggle by workers and farmers across English Canada. Now more than ever, we need a political alternative to the global capitalist agenda. Socialists utterly reject the call to merge the NDP with the Liberal Party or to enter into coalition with capitalist parties. We reject the Green Party as a small capitalist party with a “small is beautiful” capitalist program.

The NDP, however feebly, represents the path of independent working class political action. Its problems should not be ignored.

To survive, and to be a worthy voice for social justice-seeking working people and the dispossessed, the NDP must stop its slide to neo-liberalism, turn sharply to the left, and fight for a clear socialist alternative to the parties of big business in the 2000 federal election. The following is the platform summary issued by the federal NDP for this election campaign:

  1. We’ll increase federal money for health care and add home care and help with prescription drugs to Medicare.
  2. We’ll establish tough national standards and strong programs for safe food, clean drinking water and clear air.
  3. We’ll implement a national plan with solid targets to make jobs our first economic priority.
  4. We’ll double the Child Tax Benefit and create a National Early Years Fund for early childhood education and child care.
  5. We’ll roll back tuition fees and create interest-free loans for college and university students.
  6. We’ll ensure Canada negotiates trade and investment deals that protect human rights, core labor standards, cultural diversity, and the environment.

Socialist Action Fights for a Workers’ Agenda

The NDP platform, in our view, is woefully inadequate. We urge a vote for NDP candidates across English Canada (and for independent labor or NPD candidates in Québec) due to the class base and labor links of the NDP, not its policies. We fight in the unions, social movements, and across society for socialist policies and a class struggle alternative to capitalist rule. We support the NDP Socialist Caucus, which is fighting for a Workers’ Agenda inside the NDP, and we urge NDP candidates to champion the following positions:

Reverse the Cuts to Health and Education: Immediately restore the previously cut transfer payments to the provinces, and increase funding. Enforce strict requirements that public monies be spent on public, non-profit health care and education. Establish free Pharmacare and home care, combined with a nationalized drug research and manufacturing industry. Abolish student debt, and move rapidly toward free education at all levels. Outlaw private universities and colleges. Lower the voting age to 16 years. Promote and fund continuing/adult education. Create a national childcare program.

Abrogate the Free Trade Agreement and the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Save the Environment: Force the industrial polluters to clean up their mess, or face expropriation. Fund cheap mass public transit, clean energy generation, reprocessing (not mega-dumping) of garbage, curtail factory farms and genetically modified crops/foods, enforce carbon emission commitments, fight plans to privatize public energy and transit systems, and demilitarize the economy and state.

Tax the Rich: Significantly increase taxes on the wealthy, on capital gains, on inheritances over $1 million, and on the giant corporations and the banks. Tax all financial transactions. Abolish the General Sales Tax. Redress regional disparities. Nationalize the Canadian banks, starting with the largest one. Direct the Bank of Canada to provide low-interest loans to struggling farmers, small businesses, and cooperatives and to assist local economic development to create socially useful jobs.

Defend Québec’s right to national self-determination.

Support aboriginal self-government: Repeal the Clarity Act. Defend aboriginal fishers at Burnt Church, along with native rights to harvest natural resources. Terminate the Social Union agreement in favor of enhanced powers for Quebec, and for uniform social, health, education, and environmental standards for the rest of Canada. Fight for Proportional Representation, and abolition of the Senate and monarchy.

For Social Ownership of the commanding heights of the economy, under democratic workers’ control, to facilitate a full employment strategy, with production to meet human needs not private profit. Target, for the beginning of this transition to a genuine economic and social democracy, the nationalization of the giant monopolies Petro Canada, Air Canada, Canadian Pacific Railway, Bell Enterprises, and the CanWest Communications/Hollinger empires. Implement a thirty hour work week, without loss of pay or benefits.

Abolish Poverty and Homelessness: Devote 2% of the federal budget to social housing construction and maintenance. Public housing should be put under tenants’ democratic control. Raise the federal minimum wage to $12 an hour. Restore Employment Insurance to cover all unemployed workers, at 80% of insured wages, with a low threshold qualifying period, benefits for up to 52 weeks per claim, and the ability to renew a claim without penalty.

Strengthen Workers’ Rights: For the unfettered right to strike, to organize, and to exercise political free expression for all federal employees. Freedom of association must be added to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and all references to God in the Canadian Constitution should be removed. The federal employees’ pay equity claim should be paid out immediately.

For Women’s and Lesbian/Gay Liberation: Step up the fight for equal pay and employment equity/affirmative action for women. Demand and enforce stricter laws against violence against women and children. Ensure that every woman has equal access to abortion, with costs covered entirely by medicare, and that clinic staff and volunteers are protected from anti-abortion terrorists and tormentors. Gay/lesbian relationships must have standing in the law equal to that of opposite-sex couples. The testing of immigrants for AIDs should be exposed as a homophobic and racist federal policy and stopped immediately. Conduct an ongoing, cross-country education program to combat racism, sexism, homophobia, and bullying in the schools and workplaces. We welcome immigrants, especially refugees, and call for an end to the detention of the Chinese refugees in British Columbia.

International Solidarity: Canada out of NATO and NORAD! Pay reparations to Iraq and Yugoslavia for barbaric imperialist bombing and trade embargoes. Canadian troops have no business in the Balkans or elsewhere policing the Pax Americana. Extend full solidarity to Palestinians, Timorese, Irish, Kurdish, and other oppressed peoples who are occupied or divided by imperialist force. Impose economic sanctions on Israel until all its forces are withdrawn from the Occupied Territories, Zionist settlements are dismantled, and all displaced Palestinians have the right of return to their homeland. Increase aid and trade with revolutionary Cuba, and extend solidarity to freedom fighters in Colombia, America’s next Vietnam. Join with the growing legions of youth and working people opposing the tyrannical rule of the IMF, World Bank, and WTO. Like them, we demand that the usurious Third World debt be canceled.

Fight for Socialism! Global capitalism is leading to global barbarism — in both environmental and human terms. Between socialism and capitalism there is no Third Way. Socialism will not be born overnight, but it needs the party of labor in English Canada, the NDP, to fight for socialist policies, for a Workers’ Agenda. In fact, unless the NDP takes on this perspective, it cannot survive. And there’s no new labor party waiting in the wings. We are fighting for the election of NDP candidates across the country, and we strive for a government of the NDP, in alliance with working class forces from Québec and the aboriginal peoples. On this course, through direct mass action of the entire workers’ and social justice movements, including unemployed workers, we can open the road to the cooperative commonwealth, to socialist freedom. If you agree, we invite you to join Socialist Action. Please contact us today.