Saturday, September 20, 2008

Yup, here we are again in another Canadian election with the NDP sign up on the front lawn courtesy of the wife's demands, and, as usual, my discussion with the local NDP candidate who has gone from provincial to federal politics. Once more the usual explanation about the difference between a right wing anarchist and a left wing one with the candidate who knows another person in the neighbourhood(much more public than I am and whom I am friends with) who is anti-state and tends to conflate us, despite the obvious difference in our social views. I wish the candidate well, despite my registered opposition to his plan for the future of the Disraeli Freeway (build a road and traffic will follow to clog it), a view that has majority support here in east Winnipeg.
It's more of the usual. The wife wasn't home when the candidate dropped by. She's the one who likes to argue that the NDP should be more "socialist", even when she hates the "social worker"(some of which is now going over to the Greens in addition to its "natural home" in the Liberal party) base of the NDP in a far more visceral sense than I ever could. Me, I don't argue, being as I have had enough experience with the NDP from the inside, which is why I became an anarchist almost 40 years ago. Social democracy is not a road to socialism, as I can attest from participating in the infighting of such a party in the days when such a thing was far more likely than it is today.
All that being said, as I assured the candidate, if I think there is a realistic chance of the Conservatives ever winning in this constituency I would get out and vote for him. Whatever he claims from a Winnipeg Free Press poll (46% for him/41% for the semi-brain damaged Conservative "hockey hero" recruited by the Conservatives) I still don't think this is the case. Now Molly has been wrong before. We are presently "represented" in municipal politics by a conservative ally of our dearly beloved comrade leader Chairman and Mayor Sam Katz, but only because the municipal ward boundaries are quite different from either the federal or provincial boundaries. As I was saying to a recent 'anarchist immigrant" from Ontario earlier this day, there is so much that I would like to say about our Mayor Katz, but I can't because I'd lose the libel suits even if everything I said was true. All that I can say is that I was enlightened today by learning that our city counsellor (whose real-life job is in real estate-something that should be an immediate disqualification from running for any municipal office in a society that wants to avoid corruption) is the campaign manager for the local Conservative federal candidate. Busy, busy, busy, and let's watch for the sale of city land in future.
OK, if I have offended anarchist purists by saying that I would vote on "class lines" if I didn't think that my constituency wasn't one of the safest NDP seats in the country so be it. When all is said and done the NDP will be lucky to retain its present number of seats after the next election. The Greens, representing pretty well all that is corrupt about leftism in our day, will make some gains, courtesy of their unofficial (more or less) alliance with the Liberal Party. This particular outcome sickens me just as much as the idea that "anarchism" should be a mishmash of its socialist theory, held by the vast majority of anarchists in Europe, and the idea that it should be an excuse for juvenile violence and bizarre cultism (as promoted by prominent organizations and individuals in the USA- even if,even there, they don't constitute a majority).
But that is where Molly stands. My hope for the outcome of the next election is another minority government, of whatever stripe, because minority governments can do the least harm. All that is despite the example of our present government, which has played a very good game of "chicken" with the opposition in getting its legislation passed, legislation that has generally not been the benefit of ordinary Canadians. It is in this sense that I present the following from the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) on the economic record of the Harper government. Not that I agree with all of what CUPE says, but that I think it is important to debunk the idea that conservatives are automatically the best people to put at the helm in troubled economic times.

Harper's economic record:
Stephen Harper is trying to convince Canadians that he is a good economic manager and the best leadership choice during turbulent times. Nothing could be further from the truth.

No matter how he tries to dress them up, Harper’s economic and fiscal policies are based on narrow ideology and political opportunism. In fact, unless you are a wealthy oil and gas industry executive, Stephen Harper really doesn’t have your best interest in mind.

Harper’s management of the economy and federal finances has been incompetent, not unlike fellow neoconservative George W. Bush. And as Harper’s irresponsible policies push our economy to the brink, more and more facts show ordinary hardworking Canadians are paying the price.
Everything costs more
The cost of living in Canada has increased by more than 7% since Harper came to power, despite the 2% GST cut - a move that will cost the federal government $12 billion a year in lost revenue.

The price of gasoline is up 54%, heating fuel is up 42% and the cost of food up by over 8%. These increased costs alone have added over $2,000 a year to the expenses of an average household.

Harper’s billion dollar subsidies to his conservative cronies in the ethanol industry have fuelled food price increases, hurting lower and middle-income families the most.
The average Canadian is falling behind…
Harper pretends to be the everyman, but his policies impoverish ordinary hardworking Canadians while enriching corporations.

Average wages have only increased by 6.7% since he was elected, less than the increase in the cost of living. This means that most workers have had no increase in real wages for the entire 2 ½ years that Harper has been in power.

One in ten Canadians continue to live in poverty. Harper has refused to support a national plan to reduce poverty, or to increase the federal minimum wage.

Progress in reducing the wage gap between men and women has stalled: women working full time are paid on average 20% less than men.

Harper has done nothing to protect pensioners and investors from fraudulent financial scams, such as income trusts and asset-backed commercial paper.
While the rich are getting richer
In Harper’s first two years, CEO salaries increased by more than 50%. Canada’s top CEOs now make more for just 10 hours of work than most of us make in a year.

During the same time, corporate profits have increased by 28%, allowing corporations to amass an extra $150 billion in surpluses that they haven’t even invested back into the Canadian economy.
It’s getting harder to find work
Harper has helped create an increasingly unbalanced economy based on the exploitation and exportation of oil, gas and other raw materials.

For each day he has been in office, an average of 200 manufacturing jobs have been lost. Harper’s response to 500 laid-off Ford workers in Oakville this week? “We can’t guarantee your jobs.”

In July, Canada suffered its largest job loss since the recession of 1991, with a drop of 55,000 jobs.

This week, the NDP announced a plan to invest $100 million in skills training. Harper has no plan to help laid-off workers find a decent job again.
We’re in debt
The ratio of household debt to income has increased by 15% while Harper has been in power.
The federal government had a surplus of $13.2 billion when Harper came to office. But the Conservatives have recklessly squandered it by pushing through expensive tax cuts. The surplus is now expected to shrink to $1.3 billion or lower in 2009/10. This would be the worst fiscal balance for the federal government in over a decade.
The economy is stalling and our productivity is declining
When Harper arrived in office, the economy was growing at a healthy rate of 4.2% a year. Economists expect that Canada’s economy will grow by only 1.1% this year. This will be the slowest rate of national economic growth in 15 years—since the 1992 recession.

Harper is the first Canadian Prime Minister in modern history under which economic productivity has actually declined. This demonstrates just how ineffective his neoconservative tax cuts and privatization policies have been.

Although he claims to be frugal, Stephen Harper is actually a big spender—on the things he likes. Spending on defence has increased by more than 16% in just two years. He is spending billions of the public’s money on private contracts, costly public-private partnerships, and partisan advertising. We need a government willing to put money back in the pockets of the average Canadian. We can’t afford any more of Stephen Harper’s economic “management”.
Molly Note:
Let people take the above as it is. I merely want to re-emphasize my "political neutrality" here, with a further emphasis on the idea that elections "happen"(just like any other natural disaster) and that sometimes one can influence the outcome towards the "lesser evil". I see no reason to put effort out here where I live, despite the claims of the NDP candidate, but in other areas of Canada this may be different. Of course those who think that anarchism is some theological matter beyond class or who believe that some sort of revolution is imminent may think otherwise than I do. I still see the value of "voting by class". I say that as one of the major organizers of an anti-electoral campaign decades ago here in Canada. ,YES I think that an anarchist movement that has power should usually campaign for abstention, but that was not the case then. Yes, I was wrong at the time. Even in terms of the limited goal of promoting increased cooperation between anarchists across the country it failed after the election was over.Even today when anarchists are 10 times as numerous as they were in the 70s we are still a pathetically tiny force.
This is a time to gradually build local forces, given that we are popular enough to do that. It is not the time to engage in unrealistic dreams about national projects around elections. Until then...Don't Vote is the proper line to take in most places, but where it may be important- vote class.

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