How shall we speak of the NDP, Angry Tom dismissed?
Alberta’s premier has some choice words for a new NDP policy document that made waves at the party’s national convention last weekend in Edmonton.
Among them: naïve, ill-considered and tone-deaf.
The so-called Leap Manifesto has not been adopted as party policy. Far from it, actually. But Rachel Notley told the West Block’s Vassy Kapelos this weekend that the manifesto’s stances on pipelines (no new ones should be built) and the oil patch (it needs to be phased out) could be disastrous for her province.
You don't say. Now it takes a certain special kind of wacky to get under Rachel Notley's socialist hide. When the other inmates in the asylum are calling you crazy, a point of no return has been reached. That point is called the Leap Manifesto. Conjured up from the dark recesses of the hard-core Canadian Leftist Establishment, ushered into the limelight by Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis, the Leap is not so much a call to action as a cry for help. The desperate pleading of a deranged group of individuals who have lost touch with reality and embraced a comforting delusion:
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has acknowledged shocking details about the violence of Canada’s near past. Deepening poverty and inequality are a scar on the country’s present. And Canada’s record on climate change is a crime against humanity’s future.
These facts are all the more jarring because they depart so dramatically from our stated values: respect for Indigenous rights, internationalism, human rights, diversity, and environmental stewardship.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission is piece of political theatre far more than a historical search for truth or an emotional quest for resolution. Anyone with a passing familiarity of the Residential School system has been aware of its defects and sins for many years. Anyone with a passing familiarity of how most schools of that era were run would not be shocked or surprised by the grisly accounts now circulating the media.
In my travels across the Imperial Capital I've met more than a few people who graduated from the Toronto public school system before World War Two. Their recollections of abuse, discrimination and cruel violence were harrowing. It was an unpleasant thing being an aboriginal in the Residential school generations ago. Being Italian, Irish or Jewish in the Toronto of the pre-war era was hardly a picnic either. As for poverty and inequality, these things exist in modern Canada. They are however pale shadows of what came before.
It is a recurring theme of this site that modern Canada - for all its cultural decadence and decay - is in material terms a wonderland. For the first time in all history grinding poverty, systematic bigotry and widespread fear of disease are distant memories. If we were to summon John A from his slumber and show him his creation - ten times richer and more populous than when he left us - he would gap in amazement. The gleaming cities, the astonishing technologies and our valour at arms. These noble things are nothing to the Leapers. Their Canada is not the Canada the rest of us live in, it is a Canada of nightmare phantoms and piteous horrors. Their tale is a socialist penny dreadful for those still faithful to the Old Cause.
Yet it is a truism of the evangelist trade that after you have shown the faithful hell, you must give them hope with a glimpse of heaven:
We could live in a country powered entirely by renewable energy, woven together by accessible public transit, in which the jobs and opportunities of this transition are designed to systematically eliminate racial and gender inequality. Caring for one another and caring for the planet could be the economy’s fastest growing sectors. Many more people could have higher wage jobs with fewer work hours, leaving us ample time to enjoy our loved ones and flourish in our communities.
Excepting the bits about renewable energy and fighting bigotry this is an old story, so old that Karl Marx preached it. Nothing dies harder than faith. Nothing dies harder than faith in a God that failed so very badly. Instead of rejecting their initial assumptions they embrace them with even greater zeal. There is little point arguing how "caring for one another" is not a program for economic growth. It's a childish delusion. But that's what the NDP is now in the business of selling. In dumping Tom Mulcair they have signalled a retreat from being a serious party, a party that might one day form a national government. They have instead returned to their origins as a party of dreamers.
Note that I do not say visionaries. An actual visionary lays out a practical program. The Leapers instead treat us to such wild assertions as:
Technological breakthroughs have brought this dream within reach. The latest research shows it is feasible for Canada to get 100% of its electricity from renewable resources within two decades; by 2050 we could have a 100% clean economy.
Even if such things were technically feasible, their likely cost would exceed any practical benefit. Instead of carefully weighing costs and benefits of different proposals we are treated in the Leap Manifesto to a grand sweeping fantasy, a list of toys and delights grounded in nothing more than an earnest desire to seem good and righteous. This is not a manifesto, it is a Christmas list for those who do not believe in Jesus but still believe in Santa Claus.
In the early twentieth century the mainline Protestant churches began their long terminal decline, a decline accelerated when their ministers ceased to preach the transcendent and the moral and instead became socialists in vestments. When socialism failed that same class of people - the earnest paternalistic WASPs and liberal minded Jews - turned toward environmentalism. In time it too will fade. In due course modern technology will create a cleaner and more prosperous economy, using the unglamorous mechanisms of the market. Historians yet unborn will note ruefully the passing of another pernicious fad that for a time retarded the economic progress of the human race.
Forget the ideas, forget the absurdity and focus on the people. Every creed calls more urgently to certain kinds of people. For those who see themselves as the Elect and the Righteous - the guardians of the public morality whose great great-grandparents once locked up school children for playing on Sunday and banned the sale of alcohol - the point isn't solving the problem, the point is having problems to solve. The point above all is being one of the managers of problems, crises and panics. There is a certain psychological thrill in being a busybody and a puritan, a certain delight in being special among the common herd. The lust for power and vain desire for perfection are intoxicating for those who look outward rather than inward for peace and truth. This deep need some people have is why - despite decades of evidence to the contrary - the socialist and environmentalist creed is still among us. A modern religion in which modesty has been struck off the list of virtues and placed on the list of sins.