Thomas Mulcair should drop acid
I have an idea for the Federal NDP: Thomas Mulcair should drop acid. The case of Rob Ford, alleged Mayor of Toronto allegedly caught on video smoking crack, tells us that Canadian politicians can flirt with hard drugs with impunity.
Mulcair could probably get away with an acid trip once in a while. I think it would be good for him, because of the vision thing. It seems to me Mulcair has a limited perspective on politics these days, lining up the NDP as the good cop of austerity beside the obvious bad cop, Stephen Harper and his Conservatives. The NDP just will not challenge the fundamentals of the Conservative agenda – on immigration, on taxation, on health and social programmes, on foreign policy. They offer roughly the same programme, but assure us they are on our side and will try to minimize the pain.
There are two main problems with this. First, there is someone else auditioning for the role of the good cop in this production: Justin Trudeau of the Liberal Party. So at the level of electoral strategy, it seems to be playing out rather badly, as the Liberals are now outflanking the NDP in opinion polls.
But there is something more important at stake. The range of opinion we hear in parliamentary debate or in the mainstream media these days is appallingly narrow, all variations on the same theme: what’s good for business is good for all of us. There is a consensus that the success of any government should be measured by the corporate bottom line, rather than the well-being and rights of the people. Rather than providing a voice within mainstream politics that challenges the core ideas of Harper’s agenda, the NDP is part of that consensus.
They could step out of it by taking up a few sensible demands being articulated by movements. Fight poverty by renewing commitments to public housing and increasing transfers to provinces to raise social assistance rates above the poverty line. Respect Indigenous sovereignty and build policies around recognition and taking responsibility for the damage of colonialism. Defend migrant rights, rather than introducing more punitive laws. Restore collective bargaining rights for unions that have been eroded by the abuse of back-to-work legislation and changes in labour laws. Stop being the best friend of Israeli apartheid on the global stage and start defending the basic rights of Palestinians. Don’t build our future around oil. The list could go on.
But Mulcair isn’t interested in learning from movements. He made that clear when he prevented NDP MPs from wearing the red square in solidarity with the Quebec student strike in 2012. The voice of the NDP just was not there supporting one of the most vibrant and effective movements against austerity and privatization we have seen.
If Mulcair is not going to listen to what is coming out of activist movements, where is he going to find the vision to energize Canadian politics with a sense of the real possibilities for justice in the here and now? That’s where the acid comes in. I know it sounds desperate, but a hallucination or two might open up his mind a bit. Perhaps he’ll realize that he who plays good cop forges his own hand cuffs.
Great job Alan. A critical look at our socialist party (where did socialism go anyway?) and what it needs to do and where it needs to go to offer a true alternative to our mainsream corporate-run agenda that offers no vision and ultimately no change.
From Sylvia Smith on Jul 23rd, 2013 at 5:26pm
I believe Alan is onto something here. But I would extend the proposition of acid to many Canadians. It appears to me that most are afraid to step outside that comfort zone, afraid to step into the “socialist” realm. It’s a dirty word don’t you know. A journalist in the States equated socialism with not being compatible with democracy! Go figure? Since when is reducing poverty, providing affordable housing…basically providing the means to fulfilling the lower levels of Mazlow’s hierarchy of needs…been “radical” inconceivable ideas.
From Byron Bona in North Vancouver on Jul 23rd, 2013 at 9:36pm
I don’t know about the acid, but I do agree the NDP needs to find some courage if it’s not going to be sidelined again. the bully-boy atmosphere in Canadian debate and the lack of independent media voices leaves Canadians with very few alternate opinions.
From Joanne Helmer on Jul 27th, 2013 at 3:29pm
Acid just makes people paranoid. But the problem referred to is no joke. I think many Canadians have had about all they can take of “bourgeois democracy” yet sense that “proletarian democracy” would be no improvement. Mulcair’s challenge is to find the middle road appropriate to a “social democracy.” Perhaps some long, quiet walks in the woods would help.
From Arvo Ranni in Kitchener ON on Aug 25th, 2013 at 5:21pm