Tag Archives: economy

Who can save the Ontario political left?

6 May

Picture 22This past weekend, Québec Solidaire’s econmic platform, the Plan Vert was officially launched. The campaign is a response to Liberal (and now PQ) Plan Nord, premised on resource extraction and exploitation of Québec’s north. It focuses on investing in the following initiatives:

  • transitioning Québec toward green energies
  • the mass development of public transportation (especially outside of the large cities)
  • the mass transition toward energy efficiency and social housing
  • developing cooperatives and collectively-run businesses
  • taking back control over natural resources.

There is also a focus on food sovereignty and finding local food solutions for Québecers, especially in regions under-serviced by local food production.

The campaign was launched in the middle of Québec Solidaire’s national congress, a congress that was criticized by many members (including me) for having too much of a focus on electoral gains, absent of the necessary political analysis that anchors QS firmly on the left.

But when the Plan Vert was presented, my fears about an electoralist, populist shift to the right were somewhat calmed. Yes, while the campaign is set to start in the fall, work should commence immediately. Yes, the Plan Vert should have included the role that tax evasion and corruption play in slowing or stopping progressive environmental policies from being implemented (as one member mentioned to me).

And, most importantly, yes, activists within the party have to remain diligent in defending its progressive core, especially as the party grows and external pressures will force it towards the centre.

But regardless, the Plan Vert is a solid platform upon which activists can organize. It’s an example of what a political party with any ideology should do: present its own agenda based on the internal policy work undertaken by its members. For a party like QS, policy work isn’t confined to members alone, as the party takes its cues from the experts: social movements.

During the campaign launch, and as I have yet to shed all aspects of my Ontarioness, I couldn’t help but feel really, really sorry for my friends and family back home for whom there is no similar political party.

Instead, the Ontario NDP is, again, engaging the public in an online survey. On their website, they announce that they have a new toll-free number and website that will help them help Ontarians, “…have their say on:

  • How to make the budget more accountable to Ontarians and how to make government more transparent
  • Cost saving measures that will balance the budget without jeopardizing services
  • Fair and affordable ways to fund transportation and transit
  • Firm guarantees to deliver on government commitments
  • Reflecting the needs of every region across the province”

OK, ignoring the syntax problems that exist with the final two bullet points (have their say on reflecting? Really?) this is an example of what happens when a party with a progressive mission and core loses its political compass.

The slow, decades-long slide towards electoralism has left Ontarians with no realistic, progressive options at the ballot box. What’s worse is that the Plan Nord is modeled on Ontario’s Ring of Fire, a plan that will be equally or more destructive to Northern Ontario and the ONDP is nowhere on demanding the destructive elements of the Ring of Fire be stopped.

Short of a miracle dropping the scales from the collective eyes of the ONDP, social movements are the only hope that Ontarians have. Social movements will either have to take the ONDP (back) by force or start something new: the situation is too desperate to allow for the space on the left to be occupied by this.

The Plan Vert offers Québecers a real alternative: liberation from neo-liberal policies, as one delegate said this weekend. After the liberation from the Liberals landed more austerity in the form of PQ broken election policies, the direction that Québec must take if we are to free ourselves from the influences of profit and the destruction of resource extraction, should be more clear than ever before.

But Canadians, especially people involved in the NDP and its provincial branches, can take from the strategies presented within the Plan Vert too. We cannot defeat austerity if we don’t offer alternatives. We cannot build confidence among citizens if we refuse to show them that there exist alternatives.

And we certainly cannot ignore these alternatives while hiding behind a toll-free number or tweeting a website. If the ONDP hasn’t found the answers to the questions they posed, how do they expect the average Ontarian to be able to solve transit funding on their own, for example? This isn’t democracy, it a democratic mirage that actually undermines the confidence people might have in the ONDP. It’s deeply disenfranchising and it’s an insult to everyone who suffers as a result of austere policies.

Am I being too harsh? Maybe. But once you see what Québec Solidaire has made possible, especially in spite of our deeply broken political system and with just two representatives elected, it’s hard to look at the strategies of the ONDP in any other way.

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Our parents fucked us. For life.

13 Jan

This is the first time I’ve published a guest post. It flows from a conversation we had on Facebook. The pressure of high tuition fees, high student debt, high personal debt and high youth unemployment has made this story, sadly, entirely common.

Malindima Sampa

Our grandparents understood the value of the whole. With a bottom heavy population they managed to create a growing and stable society for the whole. They covered the country in grand infrastructure, built up our industries, our resource harvesting capability, our burgeoning sense of tolerance and acceptance.

In stark contrast, our parents are cold and callous punters that, through a whole life of boundless selfishness have left our generation a legacy of financial ruin and broken infrastructure. While they still pose, posture, posit and politick about whodunit and who should pay for it, they continue to inflate markets by buying things with money they don’t have and encourage us to do the same.

To add a good kick in the teeth, those university degrees that cost us $60,000 apiece, aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on. Not to mention that they convinced us to pursue the damned things at a time when the biggest purchase of our lives to that point was a pair of obnoxious sneakers.  Well, because we just love our Ma’s and Pa’s we drank the Kool-Aid and now that lovely couple that met in 2nd year is going to be paying off their debts until they’re 65.

But that still isn’t enough for these fuckers. They expect their full take of a pension-pie that is losing contributors by the tens of thousands a day. And just to make sure they really put the screws to us little whelps they’re going to hold onto big-paying, stable jobs as long as their overweight, healthcare-system-sapping fingers can, while stingily metering out undervalued part-time gristle and contract scraps to overqualified young people just looking to stay afloat, let alone get ahead.

Half of my heritage is from a place where there are no baby boomers. They’re all dead, killed by AIDS and the taboos associated therewith. That has truly set that once proud and prosperous society back over 100 years. If that is what happens to a society when a generation is culled, what will happen to our workforce, trade knowledge, capacity, capability, flexibility and agility if my whole generation is locked out until we’re 40? What will happen when we’re old, skill-less, and left in a world of literally crumbling infrastructure without the knowhow to fix it because we’ve been chasing internships, flipping burgers, working security and pumping gas to get by and keep up our student loan repayments while the overweight, overwrought ancients continue to suck in ever increasing numbers at the tit of our shrivelling healthcare budget?

Our parents fucked us.

For the record, I am not a granola-eating, bead-wearing, kumbaya-singing hippie.  I am not a radical leftist.  I don’t feel entitled to have access to wealth. I am a centrist; left-leaning certainly, but a centrist. I am a professional in the wrong profession, but after four years, 350 resumes, countless career fairs and networking functions with only four interviews and one job to show for it, you kind of just give the fuck up. On the bright side, I’m one of the ‘lucky’ ones that is, after all, working. But I’m nowhere near getting my head above water or being free of my education and I know it to be many, many times worse for many other young people who entered the workforce in the last 10 years, and more specifically, in the last five.

I believe that Canadians take care of one another, but to do that, we all have to pitch in. Our parents were given great opportunity through the sacrifice of their own parents. Our parents have neglected to care for their own children through sacrifice and have wholeheartedly abandoned stewardship of the grand legacy left to them by their own parents. Is it too late to right the ship? Certainly. Could it be made easier, regardless? Of course, but our parents have shown time and again that they have no appetite for grand vision, monumental social sacrifice or anything that doesn’t sustain or augment their access to social programs as they age-out.

Fuck ‘em, I’m moving to Germany.