NDP Sectarianism Returns with a Vengeance
You have to wonder what Andrea Horwath was thinking. By bringing down the Ontario government a week ago and launching an election as a result, the NDP risks opening the door for the provincial Tories reclaiming power. Which would be a disaster for working people across the province, let alone the social fabric of our communities.
Yet Horwathâ€™s decision is in keeping with the NDPâ€™s tradition in recent years of embracing hard-line sectarianism â€“ of bashing the Liberals and thereby allowing the Tories to win. The Tories then go on to wreak their own special brand of devastating class warfare and economic mismanagement.
Letâ€™s go back to 2005, when the federal NDP helped bring down the Liberal government of Paul Martin Jr. What was the outcome of this brilliant strategy? The election that ensued brought Stephen Harperâ€™s Tories to power. Fast forward to the 2011 election and the NDPâ€™s insidious strategy of designing its election campaign around targeting Liberals, then led by Michael Ignatieff. While the NDP won 103 seats, they also allowed the Tories to finally win their long-coveted majority. (In both these elections, the sainted Jack Layton pulled the switchâ€¦)
Sectarianism is defined as attacking your allies or potential allies with the result that it allows your enemies to win the upper hand. Itâ€™s a toxic and highly dangerous phenomenon, as history keeps demonstrating. For example, few now remember the sectarianism of the Communist movement in the 1920s and â€˜30s when it labeled social democrats â€œsocial fascistsâ€. It was a decision that prevented German communists and social democrats from forming an alliance against the Nazis, who won the 1933 election. The Communists and social democrats were soon sharing the same concentration camp bunks, while witnessing the catastrophic consequences of the Nazisâ€™ horrific agenda.
In more recent times, we see the consequences of sectarianism in Syria, where a loose opposition alliance against the Assad regime seemed to be on the verge of toppling the dictator from power as early as two years ago. But infighting and a murderous internecine campaign launched by Islamist jihadists has so divided opposition forces that Assad has regained most of the territory he lost and is firmly in control of the country once more.
In the case of the NDP, the partyâ€™s sectarianism is harder to fathom. After all, only the slow-witted can see that the ideological differences between the NDP and Liberals are tiny to almost non-existent. The only clear demarcation is that the NDP is closer to the top leadership of the labour movement. But policy-wise, the differences are harder to see.
In fact, the Ontario NDP decided to bring down the Liberal government after that government introduced one of the most progressive budgets seen in years. Moreover, the current premier, Kathleen Wynne, is from the left-wing of the Liberal party and is an open lesbian.
Yet the NDP took this particularly awful decision despite the fact Ontario’s Tory Party leads in the polls and are currently led by a far-right troglodyte, Tim Hudak, a repellant creature whose entire agenda is based on destroying trade unions and their legal rights, laying off 100,000 public servants, cutting taxes and gutting government programs. Indeed, the already besieged labour movement is now having to spend precious resources launching an advertizing campaign against the Tories â€“ money they could have put to better use. I wonder how many labour leaders are thanking Horwath for her decision to pull the plug on the Wynne government?
The thing that seems to blind sectarians like the NDP is they have some naÃ¯ve belief the damage done by Tories and their right-wing ilk can somehow be undone. This is sort of like hoping once youâ€™ve cut down a rainforest, it will quickly grow back by next week.
Let us tally up the permanent damage the federal Tories have done in the near-decade they have been in power (And this does not include the litany of undemocratic practices Harper has introduced):
â€¢ The de-industrialization of Canada. Our manufacturing sector has been decimated on Harperâ€™s watch. Manufacturingâ€™s share of economy has plunged from 16% to 12% over the past decade, with massive job losses. In Ontario alone, more than 200,000 manufacturing jobs have disappeared since Harper came to power. Meanwhile, the Tories have favoured the development of the oil sands, with its attendant permanent environmental damage.
â€¢ The selling off of our corporations and resources. Canada has witnessed most of its corporate crown jewels pawned off to foreign buyers, including the assets of the bankrupt Nortel (which Harper refused to save), almost the entire steel industry, most notably Stelco (which was later closed), and great swaths of the mining industry, such as Noranda and Falconbridge and Alcan. Critical oil sands companies and assets have also been sold to foreign multinationals.
â€¢ The destruction of our high-technology sector. This is highlighted in this excerpt from a 2012 article in the Globe and Mail: â€œHigh-tech companies now account for a razor-thin 1.6 per cent of Canadaâ€™s benchmark stock index, the TSX composite (excluding SXC, which is now counted as a health care stock). Thatâ€™s down from a staggering 41 per cent in July, 2000, near the peak of the tech bubble, when Nortel Networks Corp. accounted for more than one-third of the index. That steep decline isnâ€™t just due to Nortelâ€™s demise: High-tech names have been vanishing from the radar in Canada at an alarming rate. Last year, 45 Canadian tech firms were snapped up by foreign buyers, up from 32 the year before and less than 15 per year in the mid-2000s…â€ Meanwhile, Blackberry is a shadow of its once dominant self. If it goes bust, Canada will no longer have a single world-renowned high tech firm left.
â€¢ The destruction of cultural institutions. The CBC is a clear example of this, as the Tories have cut its budget and refused to come to its rescue as it has lost advertising dollars, leading to layoffs and demise of many of its once cherished programming.
The NDP is not to blame for the Toriesâ€™ agenda directly, of course. And letâ€™s be clear: the Liberals are a corporatist right-of-centre party too. But the fact remains that all three of our mainstream parties are pro-corporate parties. The issue is what wing of capital do they represent? The Tories represent the foreign multinational and most reactionary element of the capitalist class. Keeping them out of power no matter what should be paramount.
And yet federal NDP leader Tom Mulcair is once again attacking Justin Trudeau in the run up to next yearâ€™s election. The Tories must be rubbing their hands in glee. Mulcair has raised questions about whether Trudeau is in the House of Commons enough â€“ the basis of the 2011 attack levelled by Jack Layton against Michael Ignatieff that had such a devastating effect. A devastating effect not only to the Liberals but to Canada as a functioning nation-state.