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NDP leadership race: nobody to endorse

February 25, 2012

In the midst of austerity and war, and the potential for united resistance across Canada and Quebec, there is no candidate that opens up space for movements outside Parliament.

The Orange Wave that swept the NDP into Official opposition was based on anger at the Tories, disillusionment with the Liberals, and a desire across Canada and Quebec for an alternative. The post-election filibuster in support of striking postal workers showed the potential for the NDP inside Parliament to magnify movements outside Parliament, and the Occupy movement showed how much support exists for challenging the 1 per cent and their world of endless war, austerity and environmental catastrophe.

But no NDP leadership candidate has spoken up for that alternative.

There is growing concern at the prospect of Thomas Mulcair, who has not shed his Liberal and zionist politics. But Brian Topp and Nathan Cullen have both contemplated alliances with the Liberals—the twin party of corporate Canada who began attacks on social programs in the 1990s and started the war in Afghanistan and attacks on civil liberties that Harper has continued. Much of the left is supporting Peggy Nash, who has a personal history with the labour and social movements, but her campaign has not distinguished itself from the rest of the party.

Where is the “occupy” candidate encouraging the 99 per cent to challenge the 1 per cent? Where is the candidate speaking out against the looming war on Iran or Syria and giving voice to the anti-war movement. Where’s the environmental justice candidate calling for an end to the tar sands and supporting indigenous sovereignty? Where is the candidate supporting self-determination in Quebec? Instead the NDP leadership candidates met in Montreal under the banner “Building a strong, united Canada.”

This not only squanders the electoral chances of the NDP, but fails to build the movements that are the real hope for change.

This is a symptom of social democracy in general, and its actions during capitalist crisis in particular. Around the world—from the South African ANC, to the British Labour Party, to PASOK in Greece and the Socialist Party in Spain—social democratic parties trying to fix a system in crisis end up accommodating.

There’s no clear candidate to endorse, but we need to keep working with NDP activists to build movements outside Parliament, and put pressure on the party leadership to support them.

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