June 13 2002|
OPEN LETTER TO NDP LEADERSHIP WANNABES
Dear potential NDP-leadership candidate,
We are, as you well know, in desperate trouble in Canada (possibly terminal, as we may also be in the last stages of the implementation of a global fascism that could last for millennia a la George Orwell (Bush is doing it already - WAR IS PEACE!!), but I won't get into that here!) in that the political governance of our country has been taken over by a relatively small group of people - these people being primarily the wealthy interests in the country - admittedly, by any standards, a minority in terms of numbers, their "majority" lying in wealth, and the political influence that purchases, both directly (i.e. buying politicians etc) and indirectly (buying newspapers and tame journalists, etc). I won?t get into any long-winded expositions on this, as I think most people who would be reading something like this letter would not disagree - if you do, read no further - what I have to say will be of little interest - you can write me off as another whacko CT (conspiracy-theorist) (I actually believe that at some time in the future my great-whatever grandkids will say, regarding this CT stuff, with pride - "Grandpy ? - Hey! He was one of them CT guys! Yeah! He knew what was goin? on!" Something like daring to identify yourself as some sort of anti-Nazi in Germany in the 1930s or something - not many friends! But I digress.).
The problem is - what are we going to do about it? How are we going to restore democracy in Canada to one where the wishes of a majority of the people supercede the wishes of the majority of dollars?
If you want to **really try to do something about this, Mr/Ms Wannabe-leader, I take it upon myself to offer these words of advice.
What we need, in Canada, in my opinion, to successfully oppose the right-wing hegemony of new-libs, alliance and PCs, is a coalition of the many, many groups who oppose the "right- wing" policies that have become synonymous with Canadian government over the last few years - again, I don't think I need waste your time or mine in details, although I would be happy to do so if you want! I refer to the entire spectrum of people opposing what has been happening in Canada (and the world) the last few years, broadly (although not very accurately) described as "globalisation" - everyone from David Suzuki and the environmental movement, through David Orchard and the few "red/pink" PCs still left out there, through recent (relatively) political parties such as the Greens and Paul Hellyer and his CAP (both of which were formed because they felt the NDP was not doing what it was supposed to, I do believe) through NGOs of various stripes, such as Maude Barlow and the Council of Canadians or Tony Clarke and the Polaris Institute or Duncan Cameron and Ed Finn and the CCPA, and people writing for magazines such as Canadian Dimension. I could go on - the list of good and intelligent people who care about this country and are outspoken about that care is very lengthy, as you know - you yourself would be on it, and I am sure you are well aware of these people.
Excuse my enthusiasm or something - but JUST FREAKIN IMAGINE!!!!!! if all of these people, and many, many others, and the thousands and tens of thousands of "ordinary" citizens who support them and think like them, were ever to be united in a single political entity in Canada - call me crazy (hahaha) - but I think it would sweep the country - just as a quick example, while all major current political parties, and all of the big money people, are saying we cannot afford Medicare, poll after poll of these ordinary Canadians is saying in BIG numbers WE WANT MEDICARE AND WANT YOU PEOPLE TO SAVE IT - but where is the united political movement representing this huge majority of Canadians?!?!!. (of course, were such a movement to be elected as the government of Canada, we would then undoubtedly move to number one on the list of who Georgie is going to bomb next, (goddam socialists - terrorists every one!) but I think we could deal with it - no point in doing so here anyway, as the possibility is at the moment remote!).
Anyway, Wannabe, I ramble as I often do, but If you want to make yourself possibly the greatest leader the NDP (and maybe even Canada, considering the times we live in - times of great trouble are also times of great opportunity, Confucius say!) has ever known (possible exceptions MacDonald, Douglas, Trudeau - but how would you like your name to be said even in the same gathering!), what you need to do is become the leader around which ALL (or most!) of these many, many groups and people can coalesce into a strong, united political movement, which the voters of Canada will see as the true alternative to the tweedledum- tweedledee-tweddletwat Liberal-Alliance(-PC) government.
What you would have to do, of course, is to get all of these people mentioned above (or a reasonable semblance thereof) into a situation where there is some over-riding goal, not allow to develop a situation of "turf-building" or maintenance (including your own!) - and convince them all that CANADA is what is important here!!! - not who sits in some special chair at the meetings. Believe me, I can appreciate the challenge - I will tell you honestly and up front I have written letters of this nature to many people in the last few years, and met with no success and little interest - it seems that saving Canada is important to most of these people - but doing it "my way with me/us as the featured player" is more important than working with anyone else. Very discouraging, really - although it does tend to shed some light on where the priorities of these people lie, and their credibility when they talk about noble ventures.
You would have to be the bold one to step forward and offer an equal sort of partnership with these people - that is to say, to stand up and say something like "The NDP will gladly welcome you....? will not wash - the NDP, unfortunately, has done itself some credibility problems the last few years, from Bob Rae's caving in to the American insurance industry rather than fighting NAFTA as he promised, through Audrey's craziness in standing up on the same stage as Brian Mulroney and the bankers and taking their side, through the ongoing perception that it is a union-run party (a perception which the unions obviously do not take very seriously, witness the last couple of Ontario elections!).
Anyway, broadly speaking, what I believe you have to do to save Canada is to be the leader who will get together with these people, form a strong alliance with shared values, and then run only ONE candidate in each riding in the next election - the NDP will still probably have the most candidates, but where the Greens or CAP have a good candidate, or there is a strong independent (the more the better!), you must be willing to back off, and say FOR THE GOOD OF CANADA!!! (and not our little turf wars!) we will act in a UNITED way - all of our collective resources in every riding, and across the country, will be used to promote a single candidate, and expose the right-wing policies for what they truly are doing, and have done, to Canada - and give Canadians a clear choice of more right-wing crap or a return to good government for the people!!! What a radical concept!! - but radical thoughts are what is needed today.
I think, with such a gathering, were it ever attempted, a few things would have to come to the forefront, and be central to such a coordinated policy platform - that is, rather than trying to be all things to all people (which primarily involves either a lot of lying or broken promises, which the voters of Canada are pretty sick of these days), we would have to stick to a very few of the most important things, such as:
a) restoration and retrieval of the badly abused Canadian democracy so that Canadians can have some trust and belief in it again, through such things as proportional representation, serious changes to election finance and conduct laws, and open rather than secret government (i.e. it isn't we who have to ask for permission to see government documents, but any minister who wants to keep something secret has to get permission from some broad-based citizen committee, whose mandate is to prevent secrecy not rubber-stamp it - the case of Denmark could be instructive) - basically, overall, a reversal of the current situation wherein MPs are "elected", then go to Ottawa to get their orders, and come back to the riding to tell the people what is going to happen - the theoretical premise of democracy, as I always understood it anyway, is that people get elected and go to Ottawa from the various ridings, get together, and debate the issues of the day, each elected person in the parliament representing the views of their constituents (WHAT A GREAT IDEA!!!! sorry) - and talking things out until some sort of agreement is arrived at.... - MPs are prevented from undertaking ANY initiative that was not discussed during the election campaign without direction from their constituents, and are committed to undertaking any election promises upon which they were elected within a certain timeframe, or face some sort of confidence vote (i.e. the entire Chretien government would have been dismissed in 1994 when it signed NAFTA without renegotiating, or again a year later or so when it did not revoke the GST (HAHAHAH - sorry - little humour there - getting carried away) - etc
b) commitment to (and a solid plan for - it is doable) getting rid of the great scam known as the national debt and taking control of government and national finances away from banks and their shareholders through judicious use of the Bank of Canada, returning Canada to the wealthy and free country she once was before the IFIs took over
c) placing the needs of Canadian citizens above the profit-motive (i.e. greed) of MNCs and their shareholders, meaning withdrawal from NAFTA and the WTO, and renegotiating all such international treaties, and placing such things as the Canadian health care and education systems in a (much) higher priority bracket than MNC/shareholder profits
d) considering that very, very few Canadians believe anything at all that any politician says anymore, I think it would also be a good idea to kind of skip a step, and somehow fashion a legally-binding document that says something like IF you are elected, and the promises you make are not honoured within a certain time period, then - no ifs, ands or buts - the government WILL be dissolved and an election called (I tried this a number of years ago when I ran for the National Party in PEI - nobody (official) wanted anything to do with it! - even the local media would not say anything about it!!! - message I got was that politicians are not expected to keep promises, so what nonsense was this - the whole campaign was just a road show, and part of the show is who can make the most entertaining promises!! - so any talk about "keeping" promises is as sensible as believing television commercials (as we have seen, M. Chretien et al. certainly believe this!) - only an idiot believes that drinking Molson's beer will get you lots of pretty girls! - you?re gonna sue them when the only thing you got was a hangover? hahaha) But seriously, I believe there should be some sort of election law that says people who run for office have an obligation to honour their commitments, or face some sort of voter judgement for failing to do so - and also, that politicians should be legally prevented from getting to parliament, and introducing a whole bunch of things they never mentioned during the campaign (barring national emergency or something).
There may be one or two other big, broad-based things that could be added to the list, but it must not become a shopping list for any of the many one-or-two-issue interest groups that could or should join such a movement as I propose - any process along those lines would lead to immediate dead-in-the-water, with endless useless meetings about trivialities when, if this thing would be to have any chance of success at all, it must be underway quickly to have time to become known to Canadians, and establish some credibility - what I see, in this dream thing, is that, in the end, the Canadian people, through their (truly, proportionately) elected representatives, acting in the Canadian parliament, truly debate (with true input from each and every voter and constituency) the issues of concern of the day, and come to agreement on what the people of Canada, as a whole, wish to do, such wishes being then expressed through their national representatives.
Thus, what I am saying is, the only real platform a coalition such as I propose should be pushing is the restoration of democracy in this country - meaning we get rid of the string- pulling banks as our financiers, we get rid of the string-pulling MNCs and IFIs telling our government what it may or may not do (man that's offensive!), and we put in our parliament people who actually represent the people who elected them, and will carry their wishes to the national parliament, where they will be honestly debated, and from which the national policies will emerge - which, if not pleasing everyone, should certainly be in the interests of most of us, and find our overall agreement.
And given that, I would be completely willing to trust in the wisdom and common sense of the Canadian people as a whole to do, on balance, the right thing. Sorry. The best thing.
If you are at all interested in such a thing, I would suggest you first get in touch with Paul Hellyer of CAP, whom I am sure you know - I believe he has already suggested something similar (I wrote him about this about 3 years ago, and he at least replied (the only one who did, I think) and said it was a reasonable idea but nobody would go for it, in his judgement - correctly, it seems! - but he seems to believe it must be tried now - I know he is going all over Canada talking about the danger to our country and that we must do something about it. I think he would be approachable.)
Anyway - gotta run - I teach over here, and the new semester has just begun, and I'm too busy to take the time I should with such a letter (I suppose, speaking honestly, I have grown to feel over the years that time spent in polishing letters to politicians is not time well spent, since politicians are going to do what they are going to do regardless of what I say, or how eloquently I say it - although I expect NDPers are a bit more approachable - not tainted by the spoils of power, etc! I think that, at one time, the old saw about each letter representing the feelings of a thousand voters or something was taken seriously - but now politicians, governing ones anyway, understand that it doesn't really matter what their voters think, only what they can make them believe - their job is to sell them government policy, not take direction from them. Oh you old cynic!)
Anyway - wishing you all the best, and Canada as well -