Why did the NDP concede the high ground to the Liberals?
By James Laxer
| September 20, 2009
For three quarters of a century Canadian social democrats have been working to make their movement and party into a major political force in Canada, a force that can actually compete effectively for power in Ottawa.
Never have the conditions for the NDP to move to major party status been more favourable than they are today. (Don’t quote polls to me. They’ve been all over the place, and pre-election polls aren’t worth a pitcher of warm spit.)
The Harper government is wretchedly unpopular with a majority of Canadians. It is hanging on to its right-wing base, but cannot grow beyond that. The Liberals are led by a man whose instinctual response to every issue is to turn to the right. A believer in the benign character of the American Empire, he’s done this for years on Afghanistan. He did it on the coalition when he walked away from the chance to install a progressive government last January with himself at the helm. And over the past year, he’s repeatedly failed to come up with sweeping new ideas to cope with the economic crisis and to offer a platform that addresses the needs of Canadians. When he walked away from the coalition and supported the Harper government in return for the issuing of a few report cards, Ignatieff made it evident that he offers Canadians nothing new.
Meanwhile, over the past year, Jack Layton grew in political stature. His role in launching the coalition was masterful. It was Ignatieff who abandoned this progressive initiative not Jack Layton. As the months went by the NDP was making itself the real alternative to Stephen Harper. It was the right approach and it was working. (It’s true that a much more public assault on the failed economics of neo-liberalism would have helped.)
The move this week to vote confidence in the government was wrong-headed. The NDP has abandoned the high ground to the Liberals on the central question of who is leading the fight against the Harper government. From now on, the Liberals will vote against the government at every turn in parliament, and the NDP will have to prop up the Conservatives until the changes to EI it favours are passed into law. (Gilles Duceppe has announced that the Conservatives won’t be able to count on him for future votes.)
By the time the next opportunity to defeat the government comes along in the winter or spring, the Ignatieff Liberals will be rhetorically entrenched on the high ground — substantively they offer nothing — while the NDP is reduced to a minor player whose job is to sustain the Harperites who loath social democrats.
The coming months are going to be difficult ones for Canadian families and communities as the rate of unemployment rises and the bite of the economic crisis is more deeply felt.
The Harper government is set to lose the next election. Had the NDP stuck to its role as the unwavering opponent of the Conservatives, the party could have gained enormously. More important, the party could have offered the country the prospect of real change.
Unfortunately, technical problems prevented us from airing an on-air interview with May Yan, director of the University of Waterloo bookstore, and her staff. Sincerest apologies! However, we had Dr Leslie Howsam, in the studio and her expertise is the history of the book. We covered the Expresso Book Machine, one of which is located at the University of Waterloo. You can hear the interview here
Also, to see the Expresso Book Machine in action, view a video here
In the studio: Dr Leslie Howsam is a historian of the book and of print culture, with research interests focusing on Britain from the eighteenth to the twentieth century.
She is one of the leading scholars in Canada in this field, and currently serves as President of the Canadian Association for the Study of Book Culture/Association canadienne pour l’étude de l’histoire du livre.
and Vice-President of the International Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing.
G20 Third Day of Protests
Sunday: March for Jobs
Monday: “Organizing the global struggle for jobs & workers rights”
workshop at the Tent City
Occupants of the Bail Out the People Movement Tent City will be marching from Freedom Corner (the intersection of Centre Avenue and Crawford Street) to the Mellon Corporation Headquarters (500 Grant Street) at 4:30 to demand a national moratorium on foreclosures and evictions. Participants in the march will include homeless and unemployed people from across the U.S., trade union activists, community organizers and local residents.
The Tent City kicked off Sunday with a spirited March for Jobs, with more than 1,000 protesters marching through the streets of Pittsburgh in the first G-20-related demonstration. Carrying hundreds of placards bearing the image of Dr. Martin Luther King, and slogans such as “Fight for the right to a job,” the long march was enthusiastically greeted on the streets of Pittsburgh by Sunday worshipers getting out of church, many of whom joined the march.
Rev. Thomas E. Smith, pastor of Monumental Baptist Church and one of the organizers of the march, told the rally, “We must tell the G-20 leaders that we reject the notion of a jobless recovery. An economic recovery that leaves unemployment in the double digits adds insult to injury to all who have lost their jobs and their homes during this terrible economic crisis, both in this country and around the world.”
Buses of protesters came from New York, Rhode Island, Detroit, Cleveland, and other places. Vans and cars and caravans came from literally every part of the country, as far away as Boston, Florida and Los Angeles. Joining the many who came from out of town were a large turnout of Pittsburgh residents, especially those who live in the historic African-American section of Pittsburgh called the Hill district, where the march was mounted from.
The end of the march was Freedom Corner, near downtown Pittsburgh, where there is a monument to Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders and activists. Amongst the many speakers at Sunday’s rally were: Pam Africa, International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal; Nellie Bailey, Harlem Tenants Council; Rakhee Devastali, Feminist Students United, UNC-Chapel Hill; Oscar Hernandez, participant in the 11-month Stella D’Oro bakery strike in New York City;Sandra Hines, Mich. Moratorium NOW! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures and Evictions; Larry Holmes, Bail Out the People Movement; John Parker, Bail Out the People Movement activist, who brought a van of people from Los Angeles to Pittsburgh; Fred Redmond, vice-president, United Steelworkers; Lynne Stewart, civil rights attorney, target of government repression; Brenda Stokely and Jennifer Jones, NYC Coalition in Solidarity with Katrina/Rita Survivors; Clarence Thomas, ILWU Local 10, San Francisco and Million Worker March Movement; Victor Toro, an immigrant facing deportation with the May 1st Coalition for Immigrant and Workers Rights; Rosemary Williams, homeowner fighting foreclosure in Minnesota; and Rev. Bruce Wright, Poor Peoples Economic Human Rights Campaign.
After the march and rally, hundreds of protesters returned to the rally’s beginning point, Monumental Baptist Church in the Hill district, and began to prepare their tents to prepare to live in a tent city dedicated to the unemployed of the world that will stand next to the church for the entire week of the G-20 summit.
The tent city is full of tents and hundreds of residents. Organizers expect the population of the tent city to grow as the opening of the G-20summit grows closer. Throughout all three days of the Tent City, local Pittsburgh residents have been coming by to donate food and water and to express their support for the demand for a real jobs program.
A full schedule of the various forums and teach-ins that will take place at the tent city each day is available online at bailoutpeople.org.
Support the March for Jobs & Tent City in Pittsburgh – Donate here.
Eighty-six days after he was summarily kidnapped and forced out of the country by the military, and on his third attempt to return, ousted Honduran president Manuel Zelaya appeared at the Brazilian embassy in the capital city of Tegucigalpa on Monday morning. Hondurans flooded into the streets to support his return, to which the coup regime responded by instituting a curfew. When thousands of Hondurans refused to adhere to return to their homes, the regime resorted to brute force.
Produced by Jesse Freeston.
View the video report here.
Óscar Estrada is a filmmaker and radio producer from the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa. He works with the organization Arte Acción, and has written several screenplays for narrative films and documentaries. Oscar splits his time between Honduras and the U.S., where he is an associate producer for May I Speak Freely Media, a project that produces media on human rights issues in Honduras.
You can find Óscar’s updates on the Honduran coup on Adrienne Pine’s website.
Sandra Cuffe is an independent journalist and photographer from Montréal, Canada. She contributes regularly to The Dominion magazine in Canada, and Latin American political newsletter, Upside Down World.
You can find her photos from Honduras here.
BREAKING THE SILENCE
Abousfian Abdelrazik & Project Fly Home Montreal in Windsor Oct. 7
Mr. Abdelrazik and members of Project Fly Home are on a national speaking tour and will address a meeting hosted by Windsor Peace Coalition and the Unitarian Universalists of Windsor Region
at the University of Windsor on October 7th. A poster for the event is attached. Everyone is welcome.
Time: 7:00 pm., Wednesday October 7
Place: Oak Room, Vanier Hall, University of Windsor (Wyandotte and Huron Church)
Abousfian Abdelrazik, recently returned from 6 years of forced exile
in Sudan, will be on tour across Quebec and eastern Canada, from the
24th of September to the 17th of October, accompanied by members of
Project Fly Home.
The tour is sponsored nationally by the Canadian
Labour Congress (CLC), Council of Canadians, Council on
American-Islamic Relations – Canada (CAIRCAN), International Civil
Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG), and the National Campus and
Community Radio Association (NCRA).
Abousfian Abdelrazik, like Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad El Maati, Muayyed
Nureddin and Maher Arar, is another victim of a racist national
security agenda that has gained so much ground in Canada over the past
On the recommendation of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service
(CSIS), Abdelrazik was jailed and imprisoned while on a visit to Sudan
in 2003. Never charged, Abdelrazik was beaten, threatened and tortured
during two periods of detention. In this context, he was questioned by
Prevented by the Canadian government from returning home to Canada, he
went public with his story and took refuge in the Canadian Embassy in
Khartoum, where he remained for more than one year.
It took a groundswell from people across Canada, as well as legal action,
to finally bring about his return and reunion with his children in
Montreal on June 27, 2009.
After six harrowing years in exile, Abdelrazik is home — but his
struggle is not over. In 2006, without his knowledge and with no
opportunity to respond, Abdelrazik’s name was placed on the UN’s “1267
List”. This Kafka-esque list imposes a travel ban and total asset
freeze on listed individuals. Canadian regulations implementing the
1267 List prohibit anyone from providing Abdelrazik with any material
aid – including salary, loans of any amount, food or clothing.
On tour with Project Fly Home, Abdelrazik will speak about his
experiences and his on-going struggle for justice, as he seeks to
re-establish a normal life in Canada. These community gatherings will
be a chance to hear his story, as well as an opportunity to strategize
together about how to make real changes to the structures which allow
this to happen.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
About Project Fly Home (an initiative of the People’s Commission Network):
go to www.peoplescommission.org/abdelrazik.php
Local Hosts : firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Cinema Politica UWindsor and its Partners Present:
A Documentary Film by Academy Award Nominee Leslie Iwerks
At the heart of the multi-billion dollar Tar Sands oil industry in Alberta, a doctor’s career is jeopardized as he fights for the lives of the aboriginal people living and dying of rare cancers downstream from one of the most polluting oil operations in the world.
With a presentation by:
Director of the Polaris Institute
Thursday, September 24th
7 p.m. Erie Hall 1120 University of Windsor Campus
Free Admission Open to the Public Donations accepted
Tony Clarke is the founder and director of the Polaris Institute in Ottawa, an organization dedicated to developing tools and strategies for civic action on major public policy issues, including energy security, water rights and free trade. He holds a doctorate from the University of Chicago, is a critically acclaimed book author, and is the recipient of Sweden’s Right Livelihood Award, the “alternative Nobel Prize.” Among his most recent books is Blue Gold: The Fight to Stop the Corporate Theft of the World’s Water, with Maude Barlow.