Another term for the federal Conservatives would be appalling. If Pallister’s Conservatives win the 2016 provincial election they’ll unleash an all-out attack on the working class. The Liberals share the Conservatives’ commitment to boosting corporate profits.
The federal NDP accepts the neoliberal framework that Liberals and Conservatives have put in place. Its leadership is calling for tax cuts for businesses. It supports more oil production from the greenhouse gas-spewing tar sands.
The best that can be said about Manitoba’s NDP government is what it hasn’t done (like big cuts to public spending). Since winning office in 1999, the NDP has basically accepted the status quo it inherited from the Tories. It cut taxes. It made it easier for bosses to make workers work a day longer than 8 hours without overtime. It gave tax credits to mining and energy firms. It backed Harper’s “tough on crime” moves that channel even more poor people and people who face racism into prison. It hasn’t banned scabs or made unionization automatic if over 50% of workers in a workplace want to unionize.
It makes sense to vote NDP only because it hasn’t yet become a corporate party just like the others and because there’s no viable alternative that fights for social and environmental justice and an end to the colonialism that oppresses indigenous peoples. But it’s a serious mistake to put all our political eggs in the NDP basket!
Doing that means not doing anything to build the power of unions and community groups to challenge corporations and governments no matter which party is in office. And it means not taking steps towards creating a left-wing alternative to the NDP.
In Manitoba, years of being cozy with the government mean that unions aren’t ready to mobilize people for the kind of mass protests and strikes that’ll be needed if the Conservatives win the next election. It’s time for a new direction. It’s time to educate, agitate and organize!
Winnipeg New Socialist Group