Jessica Cassell and Christine Montgomerie-Mione are two Fightback supporters and are also members of the NDP. Recently, they were invited to speak on “3 Women”, a radio show hosted by Ontario NDP MPP Cheri di Novo and broadcast on CIUT 89.5 FM in Toronto. Jessica and Christine talk about why Marxism is more relevant than ever to young people today, and present the need to keep socialism within the NDP.
Jessica and Christine also attended the NDP’s federal convention in Montreal, and both were ready to speak against the motion to remove socialism from the preamble to the NDP’s constitution. Unfortunately, they were not allowed to speak after discussion on the motion was cut off prematurely at the convention. In addition to the audio, we publish their planned contributions below.
Prepared intervention by Jessica Cassell:
My name is Jessica Cassell from Toronto Centre. I am a proud activist and co-chair of the Toronto Young New Democrats and I would like to speak firmly against this resolution.
By removing references to social ownership and planning of the economy, the proposed new preamble waters down our principles and abandons our roots as a party that stands for building a society free of exploitation and inequality. A society where those who work to create the wealth in society have a say in its planning and benefit equally from its wealth; the kind of society Tommy Douglas fought for. The proposed preamble also shamefully removes the commitment to the eradication of poverty – this is unacceptable.
The new preamble explicitly accepts the market system, a system of exploitation that allows a small minority to benefit at the expense of the majority. The very nature of the capitalist system puts private profit over human need. This inevitably results in inequality and the destruction of our planet. All attempts to “address the limits of the market” have failed in the past.
True equality for women, the LGBTQ community, indigenous peoples, those experiencing racism, ableism, and all other marginalized and oppressed groups, can never be achieved under a system premised on private profit, competition, and greed.
At a time when the capitalist system is in crisis on a global scale, when workers and youth who had no part in creating the crisis are being forced to accept cut backs and austerity, living more and more precarious lives while the rich get richer;
At a time when discontent at this injustice is swelling and erupting into explosive social movements and labour unrest across our country and globally; we cannot abandon our principles and turn to the workers and youth of these movements and tell them to accept the status quo. As a student working two jobs on top of full time university who is barely able to make ends meet, facing $40,000 in debt and climbing, with an increasingly bleak future ahead of me; I can tell you how alienating and demoralizing this would be for many facing similar challenges.
By embracing the market system we would become indistinguishable from the Liberal Party. We must be a party offering a clear alternative to capitalism, otherwise we will be complicit in austerity and cutbacks. We have only to look to PASOK in Greece to see what happens when even a party who calls themselves socialist comes to power and is not willing to break with capitalism; it is forced to do the bosses bidding and attack the workers. Let’s refuse to follow in their footsteps.
People are looking for concrete alternatives to crisis and inequality. We must be fighting for full employment, fully funded national housing and an end to homelessness and poverty, free universal daycare, free universal post-secondary education, and free universal dental and medicine for all. THESE are the ideas that will enthuse people and defeat the Harper Government.
I urge delegates to vote against this resolution and keep our party true to our roots and principles.
Prepared intervention by Christine Montgomerie-Mione:
My name is Christine and I am from Thornhill. I joined the NDP because I wanted real change, I wanted to fight back.
This preamble is wrong for the NDP because it accepts the status quo and the market, turning us into a party more and more like the Liberals. If Canadians wanted to vote for old outdated Liberal policies, they would for the Liberal party. People want a real alternative to other parties.
In 2011 we saw the orange wave, this was proof that voters wanted fundamental change and are willing to fight for it.
Movements like Occupy showed the message that society should be based on meeting human needs and not private gain. Youth like me first join the NDP through mass movements. I remember wanting change so badly that I dragged my mom out to the occupy movements. This is where I met activists from the Toronto Young New Democrats and got involved with the party.
During the movement we really felt that we must challenge the status quo, that we must eradicate poverty. This amendment doesn’t even include the eradication of poverty. We need to speak to these youth.
This preamble replaces clear socialist principles with language that embraces the market. However, this does not make sense when it is clear that the market has failed and has produced an international crisis, where austerity, attacks on wages, pensions and jobs are the norm.
It is our job to provide workers and youth with a constitution that promotes real socialist change. I am afraid that if we pass this resolution we will move to a mushy middle that no one cares about. Youth like me represent the future. Please sisters and brothers, please vote this down. Thank you.