A progressive path forward for a party at a crossroads, or a giant leap backward as the NDP fights to remain politically relevant in Canada?
The Leap Manifesto has been the subject of much debate and discussion at the NDP’s national convention in Edmonton. Among other things, the document proposes radical shifts away from fossil fuel consumption, an end to pipeline projects and a full implementation of the United National Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous peoples.
Not everyone thinks this kind of radical leftist policy is a good idea, and Alberta’s premier, Rachel Notley, took a few swipes at the document during her speech to the delegates this weekend.
One of the Leap Manifesto’s co-authors, Avi Lewis, joined the West Block’s Tom Clark this weekend to discuss what it could mean for the future of the party, and what he thought of Notley’s thinly veiled push-back.
“I was admiring the skill of her speech,” said Lewis, who was joined by his father, former Ontario NDP leader Stephen Lewis.
“You know I think this reducing the battle for the soul of the NDP to a matter of pipelines is just not right … What a leap looks like in Alberta and what a leap looks like elsewhere, we live in different political climates and so I think there’s been a lot of tussle about the personalities and the pipelines and actually, I think we’re moving in compatible directions.”
The upcoming Alberta budget will likely include plenty of investment in green energy, the two men said, with Stephen Lewis predicting that in a few decades, the document will seem downright timid.
“I mean, what emerges in the Leap Manifesto is just a precursor of what everybody is going to be onside about within a few years that many are now,” he said.
Climate change is already having a significant impact on the planet, said Avi Lewis, but that urgency is just not being conveyed in political policy.
Asked by Clark whether adopting the manifesto, or even parts of it, could make the NDP far less palatable to Canadian voters, Stephen Lewis noted that the attempt to move closer to the centre in the last election didn’t seem to resonate either. The party fell from official Opposition to third place, and its leader, Tom Mulcair, is now fighting for his job.
“I think one could argue that we’ve tried other approaches. It hasn’t been an astonishing success,” he said.
“I think it makes great sense both philosophically and pragmatically to look at an alternative vision for the party at this point in time. Why not? That’s what democratic socialists do.”
Watch Tom Clark’s full interview with Stephen and Avi Lewis above.