In the so-called democracy we live in, the government acts and responds only in the interests of the rich and powerful. To get our way, the rest of us have to be seen as a threat to their power. After over a decade of relative political inactivity in English Canada, youth and students are not being taken seriously. However, it is of paramount importance to note that this is not the fault of youth and students; rather, it is the failure of progressive organizations to create the avenues for youth to become active.
By all logic, the NDP should be the first choice for increasingly marginalized youth. Unfortunately, this is not what we see. Young people are certainly conscious of their situation but they are not seeing the leadership they demand from the NDP. Appealing to the centre, asking to borrow Liberal votes, and putting forward a watered-down platform only serves to alienate youth and students. Only through socialist policies that answer the needs and aspirations of workers and youth can the NDP mobilize the necessary support. Truly universal healthcare, tuition-free education, iron-clad union rights, and a genuine anti-imperialist stance are the way to enthuse and mobilize working class youth and students. It is true that the political elite will criticize the NDP, but the NDP is not the party of the political elite; it is the party of the working class and if the NDP calls for these polices, young people will notice and will be moved.
So long as young people are attacked across this country, young people will continue to become radicalized. The NDP needs to realize that its role as a venue for the expression of frustrations of youth should not be taken lightly. If the NDP does not become more relevant to youth, then it runs the risk of being isolated by a sector of society that the NDP requires. The youth will not accept the Canada that is being left to them. The party deserves to be a part of this struggle but they need to earn that role by providing leadership.
- Lessons for the Youth by Julian Benson (4 May 2006)
- Arise, ye wretched of the university! by Julian Benson (31 Aug. 2005)
- Successes and shortcomings of the Quebec student strike: Quebec society on the move by Fehr Marouf and Lorenzo Fiorito (30 Apr. 2005)