FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Watershed Moment for Canada’s NDP

by YVES ENGLER

This past week may come to be seen as a watershed moment in the NDP’s capitulation to neoliberal capitalism. Canada’s nominally social democratic party effectively supported a major corporate ‘trade’ accord all the while opposing an International Monetary Fund call for a more progressive tax code.

Last week the NDP basically endorsed the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) the Harper Conservatives have negotiated with the European Union. The accord will greatly expand the power of multinational corporations. By extending Canada’s patent protections, CETA will drive up already high pharmaceutical drug costs. It also weakens provincial and municipal agencies ability to “buy local” by giving multinational corporations greater rights to bid on public contracts. Maybe most egregious, the accord gives corporations based in Canada and the EU the power to sue governments in special investor friendly tribunals if they feel public policy impedes their profit-making.

Despite these corporate giveaways, NDP Trade Critic Don Davies released a statement saying, “New Democrats welcome progress towards a comprehensive new trade agreement with the European Union.” To justify this position Davies pointed to the social democratic credentials of Western Europe. “The NDP has long maintained that Canada should have deeper economic relations with the European Union, democratic countries with some of the highest environmental and labour standards in the world.”

Interestingly, the NDP was less fixated on democratic standards when they voted for the Canada Jordan ‘free’ trade agreement at the end of last year. In that case they were desperate to point to a ‘free’ trade agreement they had supported so the party happily turned a blind eye to the lack of independent labour unions and elections in the country as well as the Jordanian monarchy’s prosecution of individuals for “extending one’s tongue” (having a big mouth) against the King.

In another sign of the NDP’s capitulation to rule by the rich, the International Monetary Fund is proposing a more progressive tax policy than Canada’s ‘Left’ party. Last week the usually neoliberal minded IMF released a paper that noted, “tax systems around the world have become steadily less progressive since the early 1980s.” To rectify this the Fund’s Fiscal Monitor presented an argument to increase income taxes on high earners to 60 to 70 per cent and even suggested a capital levy on wealthy households.

Long a proponent of socially devastating austerity policies, the IMF basically proposes a return to the income tax levels that were common three decades ago. At the start of the 1980s Canada’s top tax bracket was over 60%, which is some 15 percentage points higher than today’s rates. (In 1948 incomes over $2.4 million in 2013 money were taxed at 80%).

A social democratic party motivated by bettering society – rather than simply taking power – would have jumped on the IMF proposal. Instead, the NDP leader was busy repudiating the party’s Toronto Centre by-election candidate, Linda McQuaig, who previously argued that tax rates should be 70% on the rich.

“Be careful, she has never said anything different from party policy [since becoming a candidate],” Thomas Mulcair told the National Post. “She is a public intellectual who has written all kinds of things. But we’re the ones who have to put an offer before the Canadian public … Personal income tax increases are not on the table.”

At some point progressive minded party members will have to ask themselves how far down the neoliberal path they are willing to travel. In the meantime they should tell the NDP leadership they oppose CETA and want substantially increased taxes on the wealthy.

Yves Engler is the author of Canada and Israel: Building Apartheid and co-author of the recently released New Commune-ist Manifesto — Workers of the World It Really is Time to Unite. For more information go towww.newcommuneist.com

Yves Engler’s latest book is ‪Canada in Africa: 300 years of Aid and Exploitation.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

May 22, 2017
Diana Johnstone
All Power to the Banks! The Winners-Take-All Regime of Emmanuel Macron
Robert Fisk
Hypocrisy and Condescension: Trump’s Speech to the Middle East
John Grant
Jeff Sessions, Jesus Christ and the Return of Reefer Madness
Nozomi Hayase
Trump and the Resurgence of Colonial Racism
Rev. William Alberts
The Normalizing of Authoritarianism in America
Frank Stricker
Getting Full Employment: the Fake Way and the Right Way 
Jamie Davidson
Red Terror: Anti-Corbynism and Double Standards
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange, Sweden, and Continuing Battles
Robert Jensen
Beyond Liberal Pieties: the Radical Challenge for Journalism
Patrick Cockburn
Trump’s Extravagant Saudi Trip Distracts from His Crisis at Home
Angie Beeman
Gig Economy or Odd Jobs: What May Seem Trendy to Privileged City Dwellers and Suburbanites is as Old as Poverty
Colin Todhunter
The Public Or The Agrochemical Industry: Who Does The European Chemicals Agency Serve?
Jerrod A. Laber
Somalia’s Worsening Drought: Blowback From US Policy
Michael J. Sainato
Police Claimed Black Man Who Died in Custody Was Faking It
Clancy Sigal
I’m a Trump Guy, So What?
Gerry Condon
In Defense of Tulsi Gabbard
Weekend Edition
May 19, 2017
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
Getting Assange: the Untold Story
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Secret Sharer
Charles Pierson
Trump’s First Hundred Days of War Crimes
Paul Street
How Russia Became “Our Adversary” Again
Andrew Levine
Legitimation Crises
Mike Whitney
Seth Rich, Craig Murray and the Sinister Stewards of the National Security State 
Robert Hunziker
Early-Stage Antarctica Death Rattle Sparks NY Times Journalists Trip
Ken Levy
Why – How – Do They Still Love Trump?
Bruce E. Levine
“Hegemony How-To”: Rethinking Activism and Embracing Power
Robert Fisk
The Real Aim of Trump’s Trip to Saudi Arabia
Christiane Saliba
Slavery Now: Migrant Labor in the Persian Gulf and Saudi Arabia
Chris Gilbert
The Chávez Hypothesis: Vicissitudes of a Strategic Project
Howard Lisnoff
Pay No Attention to That Man Behind the Curtain
Brian Cloughley
Propaganda Feeds Fear and Loathing
Stephen Cooper
Is Alabama Hiding Evidence It Tortured Two of Its Citizens?
Sheldon Richman
The Real Danger From Trump is Ignored
Jay Moore
Learning from History: Resistance in the 1850s and Today
Matthew Stevenson
Down and Out in London and Paris With Macron, May, Trump and Gatsby
David Jaffee
Rolling Back Democracy
Fred Gardner
Irrefutable Proof: Russian Election Meddling Documented!
Jess Guh
Neurology Study Reveals What We Already Know: People of Color Get Worse Healthcare
Joseph Natoli
A Culture of Narcissism, a Politics of Personality
David Rosen
Politics and the Agent of Social Change
Ian Almond
The Secret Joke of Our Democracy: Britain’s Elephant in the Boardroom
Andre Vltchek
Revolution Vs Passivity
Erik Rydberg
Stop the Jordan Cove LNG Project #NoLNG
Vijay Prashad
When Israeli Fighter Jets Almost Killed Nehru
Christopher Brauchli
The Certified Trump
Chuck Collins
Congress Wants to Cut Your Health Care — And Billionaires’ Taxes
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail