Following Sunday’s decision by federal NDP delegates to hold a leadership election, thereby removing Thomas Mulcair as leader, a new debate has emerged: the dramatically divergent policies of the NDP government in Alberta and the Leap Manifesto.
The Manifesto, spearheaded by Avi Lewis, “calls for an overhaul of the capitalist economy to wean the country quickly off fossil fuels.” (National Post) It is undoubtedly an “aggressively ambitious mission statement” (CBC), and its’ policies stand in stark contrast with those purported by Rachel Notley’s NDP government. On Sunday, federal NDP delegates passed a resolution endorsing the principles of the Leap Manifesto, thus enabling future debate by New Democrats on the potential policies that should flow from it (National Post). Critics of this decision have called it an “attack on Alberta’s key industries” and a clear indication that the delegates “don’t like Alberta very much (CBC).”
What does The Leap call for? Included below are its major premises (Leap Manifesto):
- Respect for the inherent rights of Indigenous communities
- Full implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
- A new “iron law” of energy development, whereby infrastructure projects locking Canadians into increased future extraction are no longer accepted
- A universal program to build energy efficient homes
- A more localized and ecologically-based agriculture system
- An end to all trade details that interfere with any/all of the above
- Expansion of the low-carbon sectors of the economy (i.e. caregiving, teaching, social work)
- A national child care program
- A universal basic income
Although undoubtedly ambitious (and almost Utopian) in its provisions, one might argue that some of these premises sound relatively rational. For Alberta’s NDP government however, it has been “explosively controversial (Macleans).”The source of this explosive controversy isn’t difficult to pinpoint – The Leap’s new “iron law” of energy development explicitly rejects any future development of oil and gas pipelines (in addition to fracking, increased tanker traffic and Canadian-owned mining projects). Much to the opposite extreme, Alberta’s NDP government remains hopeful that the Trudeau Liberals will throw their support behind the development of new national pipeline projects, specifically the Energy East and Trans Mountain pipelines (Calgary Herald).
Many have argued that this “iron law” of energy, if adopted, would have a devastating impact on the province of Alberta, who in their 2016 budget (released yesterday) projected a deficit of $57.6 billion by 2019 (CBC). Alberta Premier Rachel Notley has called The Leap Manifesto “…naive, ill-informed, and tone-deaf (CBC).”
The implications of this federal/provincial party division for the NDP remain to be seen. To be clear, The Leap Manifesto was not formally adopted – NDP delegates have agreed only to discuss these ideas in riding associations, and they are far from being ingrained within the party platform. For the moment, Premier Rachel Notley has made the decision not to split from the federal party, but the success of the party’s future trajectory remains shaky at best.
With their wipeout in the October federal election, the ousting of Thomas Mulcair and the divisive Leap Manifesto…what do you think? Does the NDP have a chance to become the ruling federal party in the foreseeable future? If they cannot agree on a cohesive party platform, this seems almost an impossibility.
Authored by Emma McKay, Co-Founder mPolitics.co