I would like to tell you why I will not – why I cannot, in good conscience – support the New Democratic Party of Canada at this time, even though there is much in your platform I do support.
A Lack of Vision, and An Absence of Boldness:
As a party that values and seeks to promote justice, fairness and equality, among other noble and democratic goals, the party of Tommy Douglas, the NDP would be the natural choice for me – but for two reasons. First, for at least forty years the NDP has stubbornly clung to a losing strategy of vying for the centre with the Liberals. (The Wobblies and the New Politics Initiative, if I’m remembering the name correctly, tried and failed to correct this timid and strategically foolish tendency.)
If you seek to compete with the Liberals for the centre, you will continue to lose – it is that simple. If the NDP does not present a clear and bold alternative to the current slide into corporate rule – which in reality amounts to a slide into corporate fascism – the NDP will fail to inspire Canadians, and will continue to be a minor party, not a leading party. Currently, the NDP has no clear or compelling vision to present as an alternative to the failed ideology of corporate-led globalization, otherwise known as neoliberalism. This is a vacuum of leadership. And the entire party, not just its official leader, is responsible.
We need a party that presents a clear and bold alternative to the present and accelerating corporate dominance of our society. The NDP currently offers nothing of the sort. It is a party fighting for small victories, while the greater struggle to protect and enhance democracy, human rights, the environment and quality of life for all, is being lost. This approach is akin to fighting a raging forest fire with a garden sprinkler: you are not only losing, you are not even successful in rear-guard action. (The Liberals have an even worse record for compliance with a corporate-led agenda, but that is hardly reassuring. And while the Conservatives are the party for gung-ho get-on-board-with-corporate-rule, the NDP is hardly a serious alternative, as it offers nothing of substance.)
At present, the NDP is fighting a forest fire with a garden sprinkler and running backwards as fast as it can. We are losing ground rapidly, not gaining it. This is worse than useless – it gives a false sense of action. It is rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic, and patting ourselves on the back for all the good work we’re doing. This has to stop, or the NDP will become another Tony Blair party – so sold out to compromise that they are virtually indistinguishable from the Conservatives. The other two alternatives for the NDP are irrelevance, or new birth. I would sincerely hope for the latter.
Silence on the Most Urgent Issue of the Day: The SPP
The second reservation I have about the NDP is just as great. You have a bold spokesperson with NDP trade critic Peter Julian, along with Dennis Bevington and a few others, but the party is otherwise frighteningly silent on the single greatest issue of the day, and the most urgent issue for Canada at this time: the Security and Prosperity Partnership and the rapidly unfolding deep integration of Canada into a militarized, undemocratic, corporate dominated North American Union. Where are you on this, and why are you so strangely – disturbingly – silent?
(Of course, the Liberals were the party to sign the SPP to begin with, under Paul Martin, and the Conservatives under Stephen Harper are racing to implement this stealth take-over of Canada. But at present at least, the NDP is little better, offering nothing but a yawning chasm of silence on this critical issue of deep integration with the U.S.)
While the NDP focuses on other issues, the SPP is being implemented – quietly, undemocratically, and rapidly. If we do not stop the SPP, we will have no country left, and no democracy – which would mean that we have lost on ALL issues of social or ecological significance.
Until the NDP finds its spine, and presents a bold vision, a bold and clear alternative to the continued and rapidly accelerating slide into global corporatocracy; and until the NDP makes the SPP and deep integration with the U.S. a key and core electoral issue, I will not – I cannot in good conscience – support this party.
I hope you will address these issues. I know there are a great number of good people, intelligent people, people of integrity and experience in this party. I hope this good-hearted, intelligent depth of character will come forth now. We need it. God help us if we don’t find it – either in the NDP, or more importantly, in ourselves as citizens and human beings.