The decisions made at Sunday’s federal NDP convention in Edmonton are a clear indication of what direction the members of the Orange Party are planning to go, and their first casualty as they attempt to steamroll forward was their leader Thomas Mulcair, who failed to garner the necessary 50 percent plus one vote to remain at the helm.
The party now has 24 months to find a replacement. Until then, Mulcair will remain as leader.
Members were also equally clear in pushing forth their agenda on climate change by adopting “Leap Manifesto,” a document riddled with anti-capitalism rhetoric. Just two days after saying that Leap Manifesto does not mean shutting down the oilsands, (said at the start of the convention anyway), Mulcair found himself out of a job. As recently as this February, Mulcair said he was not in support of Leap Manifesto, but welcomed new ideas and understood the manifesto reflected a desire for change.
Alberta NDP Premier Rachel Notley gave it her best shot at gathering support from party members in working together to build a pipeline that would benefit not only Albertans, but all Canadians. Her pleas seemed to fall on deaf ears. An eastern Canadian bias was evident when party members, while sympathizing with the aerospace workers who have been put out of work in Quebec, did not express the same sentiment for the oil and gas workers in western Canada who have also lost their jobs.
The vote to adopt the principles of Leap Manifesto will allow the NDP to discuss issues that include:
-Moving away from fossil fuels so that Canada gets 100 per cent of its electricity from renewable resources within 20 years, and is entirely weaned off fossil fuels by 2050;
-No new infrastructure projects aimed at increasing extraction of non-renewable resources, including pipelines.
-An end to all trade deals “that interfere with our attempts to rebuild local economies, regulate corporations and stop damaging extractive projects”;
-Expand low-carbon sectors of the economy, such as caregiving, teaching, social work, the arts and public-interest media;
-End fossil fuel subsidies, impose financial transaction taxes, increase resource royalties, hike taxes on corporations and the wealthy, introduce a progressive carbon tax, and cut military spending.
The Alberta PC Party was quick to respond to the conventioners.
“At a time when Alberta is facing record job losses and worsening economic uncertainty, the Leap Manifesto proves that the NDP has never had our backs,” said Ric McIver, Interim Leader and MLA for Calgary-Hays. “No matter how loudly Rachel Notley protests, the fact remains that the provincial NDP is tied to their federal counterparts through the party’s constitution, meaning that they must adopt federal policies. Albertans should be very worried about their economic future under an NDP government.”
The Leap Manifesto is the brainchild of Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis, both noted for their anti-corporate activism.
So, who are Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis? And how do they have so much political pull with a federal political party? Some of you may remember Lewis from his days as a host on MuchMusic and later on CBC Newsworld. He is also the son of former Ontario NDP leader, Stephen Lewis. Klein is an author and filmmaker, but is mostly recognized for her social activism, and since 2009 has been focused on climate change. She has also been a supporter of the Occupy movement.
Together, they have garnered ample support from federal NDP members and are in the process of working on the Liberals as well.
To Albertans, it may seem that once again the west is being bullied by their counterparts in Ontario and Quebec, but at least one Ontarian sees the Leap Manifesto for what it really is.
The National Post’s Michael den Tandt says it best when he wrote on Sunday: “As for the party, it has now cast its lot with the Lewises and their Manifesto. This amounts to a plan for Canada to cast aside the free market in favour of a deeply protectionist, managed economy, in which the happy citizenry drive state-funded electric go-cycles fueled by state-funded wind turbines and live in straw bale houses that don’t require heat in winter. It is an addled, cockamamie vision like something out of Orwell, or the fevered imagination of British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.”