Saturday, February 27, 2021

I support several NDP candidates and members of parliaments, but not the party.

I will be attending the online event to acclaim Leah Gazan as the Winnipeg Centre NDP candidate for the next federal election. Since I am yet again offering support for a member of parliament who is in the NDP caucus, I felt it worth discussing my current thoughts  on the NDP.


Who I've met...

When I first became political in the 1990's I was partisan, and an active volunteer for the Green Party of Ontario and Canada. I had no interest in meeting or talking with politicians, because -- well -- they all needed to go because they were all bad (and none of them were Green, so that went without saying).

I ended up meeting Hon. Mauril BĂ©langer because of a mutual friend, not because he was a politician. In 1997 when I moved to the Ottawa South, I wrote him a letter and we started to engage in conversations.  In 1998 I joined the federal Progressive Conservative party to vote for David Orchard.

And thus began my transition from being focused on political parties to noticing that the individual people matter far more than the colour of the team jersey they happen to be wearing.

Wearing the NDP team jersey,  I met Hon. Bill Blaikie in 2002, Brian Masse in 2004, Charlie Angus in 2005 (and many times since), Judy Wasylycia-Leis in 2005, Peggy Nash (few moments at 2006 all candidates debate), Peter Stoffer (over the phone) in 2007, and Kennedy Stewart in 2012.

This year I've had a few virtual conversations with past MP Romeo Saganash and current MP Leah Gazan.  I look forward to a post-COVID time when sitting down and meeting in person becomes a reality.

What about the NDP bothers me...

In the before-times, prior to 2020, I had concerns that I couldn't articulate well. The biggest change for me personally in 2020 wasn't COVID-19 but my self-initiated anti-racism training.

I offered some thoughts on the NDP during the 2019 election.

This included a video that talked about the thing that has pushed me away from the NDP the most over the past 30 years, and that is the number of times that someone judged me for as being a "them" rather than part of an "us" because I saw specific issues from a different vantage point. The notion that there is a single objective "truth" about being a good person, and everything else is just wrong (and those people are bad), was thrown at me quite regularly.

I've learned some interesting things about objectivity during my anti-racism training.

Labour movement

In my younger years I was concerned with two areas of policy: technology law, and environmentalism.  In both of these areas I constantly came up against a specific barrier.  What about jobs?

I was constantly told my anti-car and anti-Big Tech (Apple, Microsoft -- this is long before the new players existed) was anti-job and anti-union. While I always recognized that an environmentally sustainable and technologically decentralized economy would actually generate more and better jobs, I took all of this as evidence of why I must strongly be anti-union.

I see unions as a response to Big Employer, and my solution to that problem has been to decentralize.  It continues to feel nonsensical to me that many of the "only buy from union shops" rhetoric, especially in technology, ends up promoting Big Employer to the detriment of their employees.

During my decade involved in Copyright policy there were many organizations that called themselves "unions" (Writers Union, Professional Writers Association, etc) who were fighting in strong support of the very "technological protection measures" which has created new and given more power to the Big Tech companies that have finally shown up on the radar of politicians.  We had been trying to warn them starting back in the 1990's, and these "unions" fought vigorously to ensure that Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook and Microsoft would have as much control over our lives as they do today.

I continue to be proud that I have avoided ever having a union job my entire career. I have been offered jobs at union shops a few times in the last 30 years, but I turned them down and did different works.

Worldviews embedded in environmental policy

This is part of the "what about jobs" question, which I always felt was a distraction given I felt funding retraining was a trivially obvious answer.

With my anti-racism training, I've asked a different question: eco-capitalism, eco-socialism, and decolonization?

Built into western worldviews, which were built upon Abrahamic religious law, is the notion that Human beings are most important (or only) thing in the world. The idea that while nature is not dependent on us, but we are on nature, never occurs to people who ask "what about jobs". To me we must have a good relation with "Mother Nature" first, and that it is everything else that is up for debate.

I've had many friends that are devoted NDP supporters over the years, and I pretty much tune out of the conversation when the "what about jobs" conversation is brought up during a conversation about our relationship with Mother Nature.

Equity, Diversity & Inclusion

This is the policy area where I've regularly been declared bad person.
I don't believe you deserve to drive a car or have cheap energy simply because you are poor. This is a systemic problem, given poverty is a policy choice that governments make.  Suggesting that we must subsidize pollution as a matter of "equity" turned me off from left-wing thinking very early in the 1990's.

I don't believe that we should continue to or increase subsidies to global energy in order that what Europe called "third world" countries can become as "prosperous" as self-numbered First World countries.  I've always questioned the legitimacy of this alleged prosperity, which appears to have largely been extracted through borrowing from the future and stealing from other lands.  I've noticed this rhetoric being used in Climate Change debates by the energy sector, and I've watched far too many on the left allowing their ideology to push them into contortions. 

It wasn't until recently that I have started to form a way to articulate my problem with Canadian style "Diversity and Inclusion".  My first attempt was in: European multiculturalism vs Indigenization as Inclusion, Reconcilliation and Decolonization.

I currently see Canadian style multiculturalism, introduced by P.E. Trudeau, as part of the ongoing erasure of Indigenous peoples.  Culture is defined very narrowly (clothing, fashion, music, dance, and food), while everything else is part of the systems of Canada (government, law, etc).

Canada has two official languages, both foreign. Canada seeks to fund policies to "protect" both English and French which are already protected in England and France, even though there are many domestic languages that need support. I consider the "Official Languages Act" to be part of colonialism and Indigenous erasure, not something progressives should be supporting.

Canada is not a democracy, but a British subsidiary.  Canada is part of a larger system with thousands of years of foreign history, including the adoption of  Christian law.

Within this specific context, diversity and inclusion become successful tools of assimilation into the foreign British (or otherwise European) systems.

In Canada's left the Canadian version of multiculturalism (indigenous erasure) has been extended to multi-religion. This has become a critical problem for the last two NDP leaders who campaigned against Quebec laicity, and thus all the NDP nominated candidates in Quebec.

Many Canadians are focused on the skin colour of the majority of muslims, and consider their opposition to laicity as a form of "I'm not racist".  My focus is on trying to get the Christian cross out of Canadian governments which many consider to be the primary symbol of genocide against Indigenous Peoples on Turtle Island.  I've wanted Christianity and all other formal (and now I understand foreign) religions out of government for a long time, and the more I learn about Canada the stronger I feel about that.

In all my years of meeting election candidates and elected members of parliament, by far the most social conservative I met was Monia Mazigh, who the federal NDP nominated as candidate for the 2004 federal election. So many ideas that should offend any remotely socially liberal person are given a free pass as long as they are wrapped in the excuse of religion (especially Abrahamic religions, given Canada was created as a Christian country).

I'm not suggesting that something called "Equity, Diversity & Inclusion" can't be a goal within a different system, but that as they are articulated in Canada they are seriously problematic.

Why Leah Gazan?

I've been watching her speeches in the house, and many other interviews.  While she will sometimes speak to the language that NDP supporters will want to hear, she hasn't yet used the types of language that turns me off.  I don't know much about the Lakota people, but the little I know suggests worldviews that avoid the problems I've had with the Canadian left.

She is also very passionate, and I've not yet seen signs that she is bowing to pressure to conform to the current executive of the NDP.  If anything, the fact that people are calling her the Canadian AOC, and suggesting she might become a future leader of the party, suggests some very interesting possibilities.

Why I like what I hear from Leah is only based on my success criteria.  Yours may be different, and even if you disagree with me doesn't mean you'll disagree with Leah.  It is possible for one person to be complex and thoughtful enough to be able to help move politics forward in a way that people who have very different political views can still agree with.

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