AN OPEN LETTER TO MARIT STILES FROM MEMBERS OF ONTARIO NDP
First, as members of the NDP, we want to welcome you as a breath of fresh air after a decade of ONDP leaders who treated the membership as an afterthought and election fodder. The inroads made by Doug Ford into our base in last June’s election resulting in a disastrous loss of seats were a wakeup call. The Party needs to reinvent itself boldly as you promise to do. It needs to shed its incremental and risk-averse inclinations that fall flat with those who need us the most but who we can’t even inspire to trek to the polls. With that in mind, we ask you to advance a programmatic profile that will be as committed to workers and their allies as DougFord is to the developers and his capitalist backers.
A public telecom, already established in Saskatchewan and other provinces, should be at or near the top of our agenda. It could provide low cost access to underserved and overpriced regions of the Province where Indigenous and other communities suffer poor service. Private telecoms in Ontario now feast on some of the highest profits in the world while generating widespread anger with service disruptions (think of the recent Rogers fiasco). This issue intersects with affordability, especially for students and youth, Indigenous rights, universal access to high-quality critical digital
networks essential to social life and employment, competent service and reliability.
We need a climate justice vision in the traditions of the Leap Manifesto and Green New Deal while resisting encroachments on the Greenbelt, the poisoning of our waterways (Grassy Narrows) and other specific environmental threats. An Ontario NDP government should proudly proclaim the creation of a program of public manufacturing of electrical vehicles to service all governmental transportation needs without private profiteering feeding at the public trough. Any Green Transition Plan must guarantee that not a single worker will be terminated on the road to a green economy.
Ford’s popularity with suburban motor vehicle owners and others compelled to use private cars because of inadequate public transport can be countered by campaigning for a public auto insurance plan. Already part of our program and wildly popular in Manitoba and other provinces where it has been implemented, such a plan will lessen the unequal financial burden on workers forced to drive and will undermine Ford’s carefully nurtured suburban and rural voting base.
Your call for democratizing the ONDP resonates with us. Central to any initiative in this regard must be ensuring the democratic prioritization of convention policy resolutions from ridings.These are now routinely buried at the bottom of resolution lists by persons whose thinking is not aligned with delegates’ actual preferences nor the number of a resolution’s endorsers. The Resolutions Committee is a graveyard for resolutions the Party bureaucracy wants to suppress. Wherever possible, new Party policies between conventions should be made in consultation with the membership after meaningful debate.This was not done when a Party official last summer declared ONDP support for a definition of antisemitism which equated it with valid criticisms of the Israeli state. Such policy statements made on the fly violate membership involvement. This practice should cease and we
can start by having the much-needed discussion on the Party’s acceptance of this definition at our next convention.
Once again, we admire your willingness to assume the reins of ONDP leader and commitment to openness and boldness in moving the Party forward during turbulent times. Ultimately, the current crises of capitalism require placing the needs of workers and their natural allies above those of the one percent. While resisting the onslaught on workers’ past economic gains by planned stagflation, we need to project a society where one’s ability to fulfil one’s basic needs should not be determined by an accident of birth. Public need trumps private profit. We need to be part of the renewed energy of youth, women and equity-seeking groups that increasingly yearn for a different society embodying collective interests and equality as its defining parameters. In sum, we need to inspire the public with the vision of a socialist democracy.
We hope you will share with us your views on our proposals and allow a
discussion to take place on the points raised here before your formal election.
We await your response to begin a discourse.