For Independent Working-Class Politics!

NDP: No Choice for Working People

Anyone who supported the NDP in 1985 to register a vote against the parties of big business got cheated. A vote for the NDP turned out to be a vote for a Liberal government. The NDP is committed to doing the same thing again if it gets the chance. A vote for Bob Rae in this election is a vote to endorse a coalition with the openly anti-working class Liberals. Some NDPers, including supposed left-wingers like Richard Johnston, argue that the party’s only mistake last time was that it did not take its coalitionism far enough. Next time they want to hold out for a few cabinet seats!

Most union militants know from their own experience that the workers and the bosses do not have the same interests—and that is just as true in politics as on the shop floor. Vote for me, says Rae, and I’ll give you a Peterson government. For union militants and socialists there can be only one response: no vote to any NDP candidate who will not pledge in advance to refuse to participate in any coalition with either Bay Street party.

Rae is betting that trade union militants who didn’t like the pact with the Liberals will still end up voting NDP on 10 September as a "lesser evil." But on every major political question posed in the last two years the NDP has been virtually indistinguishable from the Liberals. Rae has done nothing in defense of Dr. Henry Morgentaler’s abortion clinic against the sinister forces of clerical reaction, or the harassment and persecution by the Attorney General who the NDP was keeping in power. At the same time the NDP has avidly supported the extension of public funding up to Grade XIII for the teaching of the religious dogma of the Roman Catholic Church.

When the postal workers were on strike this summer the government spent millions on scabs. All across the country the cops viciously assaulted LCUC members defending their jobs. What did the NDP do? Did anyone see Bob Rae or Ed Broadbent down on the LCUC picket lines? No, in fact Broadbent was agnostic on proposed strike-breaking legislation. Just last week the NDP agreed to the speedy passage of Mulroney’s strikebreaking legislation against the railworkers—and then, to save face, cast a token vote against it. It has taken a dive on the defense of the Sikh and Tamil refugees targeted by the racist anti-immigrant attacks by Mulroney and the capitalist media, just like it takes a dive when homosexuals or any other oppressed minority is under attack. In an effort to make its toothless promise to pull out of NATO more palatable to the right wing, the NDP has pledged to vastly boost Canada’s military budget and its contribution to imperialist war preparations.

The commitment to propping up one or the other of the big business parties effectively suppresses the objective contradiction between the NDP with its trade union base and the twin parties of Bay Street. The precondition for any kind of critical electoral support to an NDP candidate in this election must be that he or she repudiates in advance any participation in Rae’s class-collaborationist project. A vote for the NDP on any other basis is a vote against independent working class action.

There are no candidates running in this election worthy of the support of class-conscious workers. The only real choice is to struggle to build a workers party, rooted in the trade unions which fights for a government committed to expropriating the capitalists and consistently upholding the interests of the working people and oppressed of this society.

1 September 1987

Posted: 12 December 2004