The NDP and Genuine EcoSocialism
The April 2021 federal NDP convention has come and gone. There were a number of progressive resolutions put forward and passed—reflecting a concerted attempt to roll back the NDP’s ongoing capitulation to neoliberalism. Those of us who have supported the NDP since the days of Ed Broadbent have seen this party’s commitment to working people and socialist policy jettisoned in favour of a more centrist capitalist agenda. Rather than going through the resolutions that were passed at the convention, I thought I might outline what I believe should be the positions any eco-socialist party should stand on.
These are not crazy or impractical. Indeed, I think the majority of Canadians would be in complete agreement with every single one of them. However, I have my doubts as to whether the Federal NDP Party would adopt them in their entirety. What I am often truly dumbfounded by is the degree to which NDPers have been propagandized into believing that most of the resolutions below are 'socialist fantasies'. In other words, what are really rather reasonable and actionable social, environmental, economic and justice-oriented initiatives other countries have adopted, are viewed by many in the NDP--not to mention the mainstream media, Liberals, Conservatives and the corporate welfare bums who give the latter their marching orders--as 'impossible' pipe dreams. As long as we continue to see them as such, things will never change for the better. So...here we go!
1. Create a Publicly-Owned Telecom: a federally-owned crown corporation along the lines of SaskTel that guarantees low-cost and more accessible high speed internet for all Canadians.
2. Justice and Peace in Israel-Palestine: an end to all trade and economic cooperation with illegal settlements in Israel-Palestine and suspension of bilateral trade of all arms and related materials with the State of Israel until Palestinian rights are upheld.
3. Abolish Billionaires: All gross wealth above $1 billion to be taxed at 100%. (I would add: impose higher inheritance tax rates and higher tax rates for anyone whose income exceeds $1 million per annum; a 1% tax on all financial transactions; close all tax loopholes; criminally charge anyone who avoids paying taxes through off-shoring and force them to pay what they owe;
4. Cancel Student Debt: Education in Canada must be free, from pre-K to PhD and cancelling existing student loan debt is a good accompanying policy.
5. Defund the RCMP: the RCMP continues to exist as a force upholding the worst excesses of capitalism and the genocide of Indigenous peoples. Reroute these monies to community-led initiatives that protect the public, not endanger it.
6. Establish a Federal Climate Change Ministry that oversees and directs all other government ministries including finance, agriculture, energy, housing, transport, food, health, employment to ensure Canada achieves zero carbon by 2030. Ensure that all polluters pay for clean up; reroute all subsidies given to fossil fuel company’s to green energy alternatives.
7. Introduce a universal pharmacare plan that covers all essential prescriptions and a healthcare plan that ensures free basic optical, hearing and dental care.
8. Raise the federal minimum wage to $20 an hour.
9. Introduce a housing act that eradicates homelessness by ensuring every Canadian has adequate housing
10. Decriminalize all drugs
11. End abusive factory farming and ban the use of toxic herbicides and pesticides.
12. Abolish welfare and institute a guaranteed annual income based on a negative income tax approach--in other words a plan that is geared to income where the richest Canadians receive nothing and the poorest receive the maximum income supplement.
13. End all exports of arms and weapons manufacture.
14. Leave the NATO alliance and focus on dialogue, diplomacy and peace-keeping around the world
15. Criminally charge those responsible and force the closure of any Canadian mining or fossil-fuel extraction company that pollutes waters, contaminates soil, dumps toxic waste or in any way endangers the health and well-being of Canadians, Indigenous peoples or any community or nation state outside of Canada.
16. Adopt a Rights of Nature Act within a Canadian judicial framework, similar to that of Ecuador and Bolivia.
17. Immediately endorse the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples without qualification and commit to its full and effective implementation.