On October 19, 2015, the most reactionary federal government in decades was defeated, in a victory for all opponents of the dangerous Conservative corporate agenda. But while the new balance of forces in Parliament improved the terrain for popular resistance, we warned that the incoming Liberal government represented big business, not “real change.” A year later, the saying that the Liberals campaign from the left and govern from the right has proven quite correct.
On the plus side, the Liberals welcomed Syrian refugees, launched the public inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and girls, and reversed the Tory increase in pension eligibility age.
However, reconciliation and consultation with indigenous peoples has been abandoned in favour of rubber-stamping resource extraction projects; the 2016-17 federal budget did little to fund major infrastructure projects, and even less to improve living standards and educational opportunities for indigenous peoples; urban home mail delivery is still under threat; pension reform has been miserably inadequate; and Justin Trudeau’s promise of electoral reform is just a public relations exercise for options that would help the Liberals.
Not surprisingly, the Liberals continue to promote the pro-corporate Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, and have not introduced even superficial amendments to the anti-democratic Bill C-51. On foreign policy, they have eagerly joined NATO’s Russia-bashing, escalating international tensions.
In this situation, cozying up to the new PM is not a winning strategy. Nor does it help to dream about a federal NDP victory in the future. What’s required to block the corporate steamroller is a conscious effort by labour and its allies to build united and powerful extra-parliamentary movements, and an ideological struggle to overcome illusions about the “progressive” Liberals. Three years from now Canadians will head back to the polls; the time to fight for a people’s alternative is now, not later.