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The stage is set for high drama politics in Canada. Our troops are deployed and occupying another country. Real wages are in steady decline and decent-paying full time work is hard to find; our social programs are being eaten away by mismanagement and tax cuts for the wealthy elites. However, unfortunately at this critical time the NDP leadership seems to be in a state of resignation. The leadership’s demand for a debate "but support" for the Afghanistan mission is one clear example of the public stance clashing with the position of the party membership and Canadian opinion in general. The position on childcare is a good start, but their passive support for the Conservatives undermines this position and hurts their credibility with many working people who voted for them to strongly oppose the Conservatives’ agenda.

At the heart of the problems with the leadership of the party is their theoretical confusion. They are trying to distance themselves from socialism and appear as "realists". But without proposing any alternative, and the recent almost vocal resignation to neo-liberalism, they leave the workers and youth politically unorganized and confused. Instead of appealing to the workers, youth and poor who make up a large part of the almost 36% of people who don’t vote, the strategy has been to "borrow” Liberal votes and in essence appear "liberal". The leadership has gone so far as to send private messages to some candidates and party executives advocating for this current course of "liberalization" as the only way to win! This has led to some frustration and alienation with social activists on the left and in some cases people leaving the party altogether. However, the future of the NDP is not determined by this or that turn of the leadership. The NDP is the party of labour in Canada and the party people will turn to for change. We can already see people turning to the NDP with the recent election results, despite the leadership’s uninspiring campaign. What the party must do now is offer that real alternative that people are looking for more and more every day.

The wealthy elites depend on making ever increasing profits, and today it is becoming harder for them to do so. They must therefore take it out of our wages and social programs to pay for their obscene lifestyles and all of the inefficiencies of capitalism. They will no longer accept the mild reforms of the past and are actively working to tear down the hard earned gains of the workers in Canada and around the world. Yes, the wearing down of social programs is not isolated to Canada alone, but is affecting even the former bastions of social reform, such as Germany, France, Denmark and Sweden. It is clear that under the current economic model, we can only hope to lessen the severity of the new “reforms” the ruling elites are pursuing. However, workers around the world are mobilizing against these policies, and in some places are starting to get results. This growing movement is best expressed in Venezuela.

“21st Century Socialism” as Hugo Chávez calls it, is presenting itself as an alternative to today's neo liberal economics of exploitive globalization – one that the NDP should be looking to for a great example of what is possible in Canada. Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez realized after getting elected that the ruling classes were not about to accept even mild reforms, and putting forward such reforms brought him into conflict with the ruling elites at home and in the US, as they saw their own economic interests threatened. Since then, President Chávez has said that the only way forward is Socialism. Chávez is one of – if not the most democratic leader in the world and has won many elections with huge majorities. The NDP needs to look to people like Chávez as an example of how to move forward, and not be afraid to confront the elites and imperialism to fight for a better society.

The NDP must take up a leading role in Canadian social movements and confront neo-liberalism with full force to gain the support of the majority of workers, youth and poor. They must fight tooth and nail for every possible gain they can get for the workers and youth, through the parliament and through the streets. They must fight for the only real alternative to this devastating global economic model of capitalism – International Socialism!
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