The New Democrats are receiving more than usual scrutiny now they are the Official Opposition. Consequently, that party finds itself a subject of interest of journalists and bloggers across the country. For many in Canada, this past week or so has seen their first serious look at Canada’s main socialist party.
The first thing I learned is that there’s a lot about the NDP that is not transparent and not in the public domain. The second thing I learned is how much the NDP would like to shake off the label “socialists.”
Many focus groups have told NDP leaders that the word “socialists” does not have positive vibes among most Canadians, and that’s enough for the Dippers to purge the use of the term they once distributed liberally throughout their party literature. Oh, they’re still socialists—and they still belong to international socialist movements and causes—but they now prefer the terms “democrats,” “progressives” and “social democrats.” It’s a public relations makeover you see, not a real conversion.
It’s difficult, though, to get a handle on what the New Democrats really (officially) believe. One used to be able to refer to their party’s constitution, but as others have discovered, the main party—the federal NDP—seems to have purged the Internet of all versions of that previously easy-to-obtain document. The Liberals, Conservatives and Greens are far more transparent and make their values, goals and objectives open to public scrutiny, as one would expect from any democratic political party. Not so the NDP.
I did, however, find a copy of The Constitution of the New Democratic Party of British Columbia, a branch of the national (federal) Dippers, incorporating amendments adopted at their 2009 convention. Readers should be aware that all NDP parties in Canada belong to the overall national party. Individuals joining a provincial party automatically join the federal party and vice versa. The constitution of a provincial New Democratic Party, therefore, is a sub-set of the federal one. Here’s the preamble:
“The New Democratic Party believes that social, economic and political progress in Canada can only be assured by the application of democratic socialist principles to government and the administration of public affairs.
“The principles of democratic socialism can be defined briefly as follows: a) the production and distribution of goods and services shall be directed to meeting the social and individual needs of people and not for profit, b) the modification and control of the operations of monopolistic productive and distributive organizations through economic and social planning, towards these ends, and c) where necessary, the extension of the principle of social ownership.
“The New Democratic Party holds firm to the belief that the dignity, freedom and equality of the individual is a basic right that must be maintained and extended.
“The New Democratic Party is proud to be associated with the democratic socialist parties of the world and to share in the struggle for peace, international co-operation and the abolition of poverty.”
Frankly, this preamble, which sets out the NDP’s guiding principles and values, is terrifying for it clearly advocates—as a fundamental principle—hard-left socialism of the sort in which the state owns and controls the production and distribution of goods. Since this preamble is much the same as the one written about elsewhere as being the preamble to the federal party’s constitution—see here and here—I’ll consider it official and representative of the entire NDP organization.
And if that doesn’t scare you, see here for the Manifesto for a Socialist Canada, the founding document of the NDP’s Socialist Caucus. The first paragraph states:
“SOCIALISTS AROUND THE WORLD believe in the establishment of a society where the exploitation of one class by another will no longer exist. Our aim and ongoing struggle as New Democrats must be to establish a Socialist Canada. We believe that the achievement of this goal requires a socialist party that, together with the self-organized mass struggles of working people, can win government for the purpose of transforming Canada into a socialist society. Our objective as members of the New Democratic Party (NDP) is to make our party into one that fights for government, and when in government, actually implements socialist policies.”
And the second paragraph dispels any doubt a reader may have about who the Dippers are and their plans for Canada, should they ever gain power in Ottawa.
“Replacement of Capitalism with Socialism
The global capitalist system is today in the throes of a massive economic, political, environmental and social crisis. If the capitalist system continues to exist, growing poverty, violence, war and repression and environmental degradation will be the fate of working people across Canada and around the world. The Socialist Caucus of the NDP does not believe that it is possible for working people anywhere to achieve significant and permanent social and political progress without transcending the limits of capitalism. A prerequisite is the establishment of Socialist governments all across the country, federally and provincially.”
The NDP’s plan is in place—replace capitalism with socialism—but is not advertised. I’d call that a hidden agenda.