• Michael Laxer

Courage statement shows, yet again, why fighting for a left agenda in the NDP is futile

Resolutionary socialism was a waste of time in 2013 and it still is now.

Screenshot from the 2018 NDP convention

In the least surprising "news" to come out of the Canadian left in the last few years, it would seem the folks in Courage have discovered what many of us have been saying for years: pass all the resolutions you want at NDP conventions, the party does not care. They are meaningless other than as an exercise in futility.

In a post February 2, 2021, they noted that:

In total, the membership voted in support of 29 different policy-related resolutions in 2018 (not including non-policy resolutions regarding internal party business, campaign strategy, etc.) Of these 29 policy resolutions, only 13 have been added to the version of the Policy Book that appears on the 2021 convention website. The rest appear to have been simply disregarded by the party.
Among these ignored resolutions are some fairly major platform pieces, such as full drug decriminalization, and a ban on the racist practice of police “carding.” Perhaps most egregiously absent from the Policy Book is a commitment to fighting for socialized, universal dental care. This resolution passed nearly unanimously at the 2018 convention, is nowhere to be found in the Policy Book, and was substituted for a much weaker means-tested dental care proposal in the NDP’s 2019 election platform.

They go on to bemoan that this contradicts the party's own constitution, which is another thing the NDP has never cared about.

The statement ends by saying:

While this discovery has somewhat eroded our confidence in the ability of grassroots movements to have a meaningful voice within the NDP, we nonetheless intend to continue pushing for more transparency, more accountability when breakdowns like this occur, and a more robust democracy within the NDP. We hope you’ll join us in this fight, at the 2021 convention and beyond.

Somewhat? And they act as if these undemocratic actions are "breakdowns" that are something somehow unintended which they are not at all.

This has been going on for decades. In 2011 the Ontario NDP denied to the Toronto Star that the member policy book even existed. They only admitted it did when the reporter found it on a website that had leaked it. This was the Ginger Project website that myself and other comrades were involved in at the time.

Any resolutions passed at conventions are window dressing. Mobilizing to get resolutions passed as a form of "activism" is a total waste of time. Even if you do get them past the committees and to the floor, if the leadership of the party does not like the resolution they will ignore it as they have over and over and over and over again.

I argued this in 2013 in the piece Resolutionary Socialism: Why a leftist agenda within the NDP is futile and nothing at all has changed.

In fact, since that was published we have seen the advent of the creepy oversight of "Fred Checkers" and the ghosting or disallowing of countless candidates including even a prominent former labour leader and NDP candidate like Sid Ryan.

As I said in 2013, trying to turn the NDP is a fight that cannot be won. To describe it as utopian would be unfair to utopianism, which is predicated on the principle that its struggle is Sisyphean. This is a case of activists tilting at windmills without recognizing that they are doing so.

Further reading: The Left Chapter: Fifty years later it is time to acknowledge the Waffle was wrong