I have had a few days to ponder the events of the NDP convention last weekend, and a few days to mull over this leap to the left. Thomas Mulcair, who, yes, greatly disappointed during the last federal election campaign, is out and the party has agreed to at least debate the merits of the Leap Manifesto that steers them sharply in the direction of the far left.
Crazy. Not as crazy as the Trump/Cruz/Clinton/Sanders show south of the border, but crazy nonetheless.
The Leap Manifesto was released last September during the election campaign. “The time for this great transition is short. Climate scientists have told us this is the decade to take decisive action to prevent catastrophic global warming. That means small steps will no longer suffice. So we need to leap,” it stated.
Among other things, the manifesto calls for shifting quickly away from fossil fuels so that Canada gets 100 per cent of its electricity from renewable resources within 20 years and is entirely weaned off fossil fuels by 2050.
No new infrastructure projects aimed at increasing extraction of non-renewable resources, including pipelines.
“Energy democracy,” in which energy sources are collectively controlled by communities instead of “profit-gouging” private companies.
That’s quite a… well, leap from the more centrist, pragmatic policies of Thomas Mulcair.
The Leap Manifest was authored by well-respected, left-leaning author Naomi Kline and her husband Avi Lewis. Let that name Lewis resound in your head for a moment. Yes, he is the son of NDP icon, and perhaps one of the most respected Canadians on the international stage, Stephen Lewis.
And yes, there has always been a segment of the NDP that want the party to be more ideological, more grounded in leftist principles. But this is a significant shift and it is of course, causing major pain for Alberta Premier Rachel Notley. After finally electing an NDP government in Alberta, a conservative bastion for so many years, the first thing the party she represents does is try to ban fossil fuels? Notley is already being blamed for the financial problems in Alberta, which really are none of her doing since the crisis was well underway before she was elected, but this? This, I’m afraid dooms Notley to being a one-term wonder, an asterisk in history.
Remember that time when Oilbertans elected that left wing freak and she banned oil? That’s what they are going to remember about Notley, even though she argued vehemently against even considering the Leap Manifesto.
I am perplexed by the NDP. I truly am. I admire their principles in so many ways, but am vexed by the myriad ways they find to shoot themselves in the foot.
At its heart the Leap Manifest is correct. Climate change is real and it is happening now. But there is also economic reality. Canada is a nation with resource-extraction at the heart of its economy. We are nowhere near the point where reliance on fossil fuels can be stopped without severe economic pain. It’s not going to happen in 20 years, with all fossil fuels being replaced by clean energy, and all the workers retrained and working in low-carbon jobs as the manifesto advises.
As for Mulcair, he too is doomed to the ash-heap of history, a career book-ended by a battle with charisma — his lack of it and his two significant rivals’ abundance of it. Mulcair took over the NDP after the death of leader Jack Layton, a man who single-handedly took the always third place party to Official Opposition status, through sheer force of personality and will. Mulcair would never match Layton’s personal charm, though his skills in the House were undisputed.
Still, leading the NDP into the latest federal campaign, and riding high in the polls, Mulcair ran into another wall of charisma name Justin Trudeau. And we all know what happened after that.
Carolyn Grant is Editor of the Kimberley Bulletin