No Policy Shift by Federal NDP

The two largest opposition parties in Parliament have chosen new leaders, and the 2019 federal election is effectively underway. The big business Liberals have abandoned the progressive promises which won them a majority in 2015, and the Conservatives are now led by Andrew Scheer, who has close links to corporate boardrooms and far-right, racist forces. But the NDP has missed this opportunity to challenge the ruling class dogmas of neoliberal austerity and imperialist “humanitarian interventionism.”

Significantly, the NDP’s Jagmeet Singh is the first racialized person to lead a federal party with seats in Parliament. This outcome rejects the colonialist, racist, and neo-fascist narrative that Canada is a “Christian white man’s country.” But it is also telling that the mainstream media and much of the NDP tout Singh as “more charismatic” than Justin Trudeau – in other words, more “marketable” than the current PM.

More fundamentally, in sharp contrast to UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Singh does not advocate building a powerful movement for progressive social and economic change. His support for a means test for Old Age Security signals that social programs need not be universal. Similarly, Singh’s positive stance on LGBTQ+ equality issues is contradicted by his early backing for the bigoted outcry against Ontario’s sex-ed school curriculum.

We also note that Singh takes pro-imperialist positions on international issues, including support for greatly expanded Canadian military spending. He is closely aligned with NDP foreign affairs critic Hélène Laverdière, who is a vocal backer of the anti-Palestinian American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a fierce enemy of Venezuela’s elected President Nicolás Maduro, and a supporter of NATO’s drive to encircle Russia.

In other words, under Jagmeet Singh, the NDP remains committed to putting a “human face” on capitalism. Working people deserve much better than this “more of the same.”

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