Tuesday, September 06, 2016

An Opportunity For Those Who See It

The NDP is in the wilderness. Tom Mulcair has been given his retirement date. But no one in the party seems to be interested in the job. Perhaps that's because no one is quite sure who or what the party stands for. Tom Walkom suggests that now is the time for the party to renew its marriage vows with labour:

We live in a time when labour needs a political party willing to work for it. And the NDP needs a reason to exist.

Labour needs a political party because unions, on their own, are a declining force. Only 29 per cent of the Canadian workforce is unionized. The number continues to fall.

This has happened because the economy, once characterized by large manufacturing plants, is now dominated by smaller service firms that, under current labour laws, are more difficult to unionize.

The decline of well-paying union jobs is one of the key factors behind the rise in income inequality that politicians routinely fret about.

Yet to reverse this trend would require a total rethinking of employment and labour laws, most of which were designed in the 1940s and ‘50s.
That in turn requires a political party willing to do the rethinking.

Just as the NDP brought medicare to Canada, it could bring labour reform to Canada:

Among other things, the laws must be amended to eliminate the loophole that allows so many employers to pretend their workers are independent contractors who do not qualify for benefits or statutory protection.

As well, labour relations laws would have to be changed to allow unions organizing, say, fast-food franchise outlets, to take on the ultimate employer.

These are just a couple of examples. The point is that, if unions are to survive, labour laws must be rethought.

The Dippers are in crisis. But a crisis is also an opportunity -- for those who see it. 

Image: notable.ca


Steve said...

Another powerful argument for proportional representation.

Owen Gray said...

I concur, Steve.

The Mound of Sound said...

The NDP membership needs to realize that Layton and Mulcair led them into an electoral desert, abandoning the Left, labour and the party's historical role. Their party was Blairified with the support of members who saw a chance at power as preferable to principle. These Latter Day Libs offered Canadians a new centrist option but they stepped into Trudeau's killing field. It'll take a very special leader to navigate their way back out of this mess.

Toby said...

The story that needs to be told again and again until everyone gets it is that economies work best when wealth is spread around. And not just economies; a whole lot of other things work when everyone can afford to eat.

Owen Gray said...

That's a simple truth which we should have learned long ago, Toby. Unfortunately, our memories are short.

Owen Gray said...

I agree whole heatedly, Mound. With Layton they had the illusion that power was almost theirs. And they bet on Mulcair to take them to the Promised Land. Instead, they're still wandering in the desert.

Anonymous said...

What led to the LIBERAL party into the political wilderness was that they abandoned centrist Keynesian values for Milton Friedman. Ran against Brian Mulroney in 1993 and became the Brian Mulroney party. They even ditched the Pearson tradition of peacekeeping to try to get a good deal on a softwood lumber dispute. Absolutely disgraceful!

By 1995, the Neo-Liberal party got rid of all actual centrist liberals in the party. Funny that useless baby-boomer Liberals like the Mound believe Conservative Paul Martin was the best finance minister in history. (He says he's no longer a Liberal, but his irrational hatred of the NDP still shines through.)

How did the LIBERAL party come back out of the wilderness? By ditching neoliberal economics and begin representing the people instead of oligarchs once again? No. Junior doubled down on Friedman. But takes selfies and indulges in countless photo-ops which has bought him a year-long Hollywood honeymoon fueled entirely on fluff.

Layton was right. Canadians loved him. His idea was to represent the centrist liberals the Neo-Liberal party abandoned and social democrats. Liberals hate him for daring to go after the centrist vote they feel entitled to without ever having to represent. Unfortunately his time was cut short and he was replaced by a freaking Liberal who admired Margaret Thatcher.

Walkom is a disgrace. An establishment talking head. The task his editors gave him (and other ersatz journalists at the Rag) is to push the NDP to the radical left to pave the way for more Neo-Liberal fake majorities.

(The probability Trudeau does anything with electoral reform is next to zero. Enjoy your little establishment colony and pretend that when you vote you aren't wasting your time. Instead of a 'sober second thought' fake democracy run by an aristocratic senate we have a fake democracy run by establishment puppets put in power by a captured news media. Whether a Neo-Liberal or Neo-Con dictatorship on 40% of manipulated vote, it is an establishment dictatorship.)

Owen Gray said...

You're feeling a little cynical today, Anon?

Anonymous said...

Interesting how centrist cattle dismiss facts as 'cynical' when thrown in with their prolefeed. I imagine they haven't heard of this newfangled thing called the 'interweb' that is a giant fact-checking research engine anyone can use.

Is it cynical to observe corruption in government and the media? Or is it naive to believe it couldn't possibly happen?

In any case, I predict Trudeau will abandon his electoral reform initiative based on logic. For one, the establishment is livid. It would take away their power over government. Trudeau has shown himself to be a very pro-establishment politician in his economic and (anti-)environmental policies.

Second, the issue is being buried. Summertime consultations with Canadians few Canadians are actually aware of. I went on the government electoral reform page to get a link to a survey to send to some people that was on 'Rural's blog (which I forget the name of.) Still can't find it.

If 50 people take the survey out of 33-million, that's just evidence Canadians don't care. And they don't. That's because the corporate media manipulates the people by keeping them in the dark and feeding them horseshit.

Watch and see. There are many ways Trudeau can kill ER without looking bad. All indications are that's exactly what he's going to do. And the establishment media will praise him for it.

John B. said...

We all can be somewhat cynical at times but I wouldn't consider Anon's commentary a throwaway without further consideration.

"[Layton's] idea was to represent the centrist liberals the Neo-Liberal party abandoned and social democrats. Liberals hate him for daring to go after the centrist vote they feel entitled to without ever having to represent."

Of course, any NDP leadership team will always have to contend with the expectations of otherwise very open-minded critics, both from within the party and from without, who will make demands of it based on their personal perspectives on the role the party should play ("conscience of government", "progressive watchdog", "principe before power"), as well as the prospective revolt of an important element of its support that has never seemed able to grasp that there is often a greater likelihood of overtaking an adversary by approaching from a flank than by forming up for a frontal assault.

Owen Gray said...

I take your point, John. And I take Anon's point that voters chose the real centrist Liberals, recognizing that the NDP was not what it pretended to be. That's a point which Walkom made as well. What bothered me was that Anon's comment was more screed than analysis. That's something he's entitled to. But his pox on all your houses diatribe was over the top.

Owen Gray said...

We'll see, Anon. I don't know what will emerge on electoral reform. My sense is that Trudeau made a commitment and he can't back away from it. Whether it will be better than what we have remains to be seen.

the salamander said...

.. as always, I suggest purchasing or borrowing 'The Upside of Down'
for those concerned about the aftermath of forest fires
or the mere collapse of a civilization ..

Each chapter is quite consequential ..

Owen Gray said...

Thanks for the tip, salamander. It's been my experience that there's always an upside -- although you may have to look hard to find it.