Has The NDP Left The Left ?

04/11/2016 01:23 EDT | Updated 04/12/2017 05:12 EDT
Mathieu Belanger / Reuters
Canada's New Democratic Party (NDP) leader Tom Mulcair waves with his wife Catherine and sons Greg (L) and Matthew after he gave his concession speech after Canada's federal election in Montreal, Quebec, October 19, 2015. REUTERS/Mathieu Belanger

If the NDP is to survive, it must defend left wing policies. But what does it mean exactly and what should it do in order to occupy the Left in Canadian politics? Here are some examples.

A leap forward would be to explicitely disagree with Rachel Notley and endorse the Leap Manifesto. It is not a leap in the dark; it is a leap beyond the dark age of fossil fuel industry. This leap would imply saying no to pipelines. Among other things, the Energy East project should be rejected, for otherwise it would entail an increase of 100 per cent in the fossil fuel industry.

In other words, the NDP should reject the idea that we should double the production of dirty oil by 2020 and to triple that production by 2030. To double the production of fossil fuels in Alberta would produce additional 35,000,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year, equivalent to adding seven million automobiles in Canada. This is simply incompatible with the goal of progressively reducing the greenhouse gas emissions. In order to reduce gas emissions, you first need to stop increasing them.

To stop the increase does not mean to stop immediately the fossil fuel industry. Mulcair's idea of introducing a carbon tax that would progressively be invested in clean energy would be a second step in the good direction. Canadians have already invested quite a lot in Alberta's economy by financing the development of the fossil fuel industry, thereby increasing the value of the Canadian dollar, which in turn created the loss of thousands of jobs in Ontario and Quebec. Seen in this way, equalization payments are nothing more than compensation payments. Solar energy is a good replacement and the good news is that the place where it is mostly present happens to be in Alberta.

Another important policy would be to reject the TPP. Bernie Sanders and now Hilary Clinton are both against it, so the least the NDP can do is to keep on rejecting it as well. The TPP is not just an agreement on free trade. It is an agreement that allows companies to sue governments if they think that these governments have policies preventing them to make profits. The TPP imposes a new set of rules and regulations that circumvent those already in place at the level of World Trade Organisation.

Since NAFTA was implemented, we have realized that free trade was not just about the elimination of commercial boundaries and protectionist trade policies, but also about allowing delocalization to take place. NAFTA more than ever appears to be just a piece in the puzzle of a globalized economy that concentrate capital and means of production in the hands of just a few multinational companies. And just as Sanders is considering to reintroduce the Glass Steagal act, the NDP should also propose to reintroduce firewalls between financial institutions.

The NDP should also consider the Dussault Erasmus report and the UN's Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as central pieces of its policy toward Indigenous peoples. It should also consider the Sherbrooke Declaration as a central piece of its policy toward Quebec. Concerning religious signs, the NDP should follow Quebec Solidaire and suggest the adoption of a Charter of secularism that would be inspired by the Bouchard Taylor recommendations.

These recommendations present a nice equilibrium between the respect of religious freedom and the equality between men and women. Concerning the niqab issue, the citizenship oath could take the form of a private ceremony for those women who do not wish to remove their veil in public.

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