Where does Jack Layton stand?

Maybe they’re not quite joined at the hip, but an undeniable kinship between the NDP and the labour movement might explain why both seem to suffer from the same ailment.

Maybe they’re not quite joined at the hip, but an undeniable kinship between the NDP and the labour movement might explain why both seem to suffer from the same ailment.

A kind of dysfunction of principles, with politicians and labour leaders alike seemingly more interested in hanging on to power and its perks than safe-guarding the gains achieved by those in the past that were more committed to the cause. Yes, the folks that brought you weekends. But a not uncommon ailment it seems.

Consider the following:

After the banks showed us what real “fiscal irresponsibility” looks like, it seems laughable that the NDP should worry about being labeled with that same irresponsibility.

Then at the recent 50th anniversary convention of the NDP, considerations to merge with the Liberals – and to delete references to socialist principles from the pre-amble of the NDP constitution were left open.

In other words; remaining a possibility! Now, I wonder; when did “socialist” become a dirty word? Poor Tommy must’ve turned in his grave.

What is wrong with a social philosophy that strives for a more equitable society, one that recognizes as obscene the present contrast between bankers and CEOs going home with multi-million-dollar salaries and the many lone widows in this nation that have to get around with less than 15,000 a year?

At this point, I think, it is not unreasonable to ask, “What does Layton’s NDP stand for?”

It seems nothing was learned from the utter fiasco of the British Labour Party under

Tony Blair. The similarities between policies of that party and those of the present

NDP are not only striking but alarming.

And alarming, too, was the lack of visible support from the labour movement in the recent labour disputes at Air Canada and the Postal workers.

Has “solidarity” become another dirty word – to be deleted from the labour lexicon?

The back to work legislation might well be the first skirmish in a Harper battle to destroy the right to collective bargaining.

On May 9 to 13 the Canadian Labour Congress had its 26th convention in Vancouver (with Jack Layton as guest speaker). Among the adopted resolutions; “counter the government’s legislative initiatives with a series of targeted and specific actions,” and, “defend defined benefit pension plans.”

Laudable resolutions, but why then the silence on the part of the CLC – and Local 480 I might add.

A silence that was in sharp contrast to the reaction of the labour movement in Wisconsin recently, when in a not dissimilar situation the governor of that state, Scot

Walker, attempted through legislation, to gut collective bargaining and public services.

Sooner, rather than later, labour will have to mount a more vigorous defense of working people’s rights – Mr. Harper is in a hurry.

In the meantime, with the NDP apparently more intent on becoming just “the other party” rather than a genuine opposition, that special kinship, long the backbone of the NDP, might come to a sad end.

The resulting loss of votes might then be compensated for by those possibly more at ease with a less confrontational political party, those (still) on the prosperous side of the equation, as in, “don’t rock the boat, I’m comfortable,” but better to remember the word “fickle’.” Tony Blair could tell you all about it.

Peter van Iersel


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