Why the CAW (really) left the NDP behind

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The Article

At its recent convention, the Canadian Auto Workers union officially severed its political relationship with the New Democratic Party.

It was hardly a surprising development. The former allies, after all, had been feuding for months; earlier this year, the NDP officially expelled CAW boss Buzz Hargrove from party ranks.

What is surprising, however, is why the CAW is cutting off the NDP. It’s all laid out in the CAW convention paper, In the Eye of the Storm: The CAW and the Re-Making of Canadian Politics.

Are you ready for this? According to In the Eye of the Storm, the CAW is cutting off ties with the NDP because New Democrats are too right wing. Yes, that’s right, Canada’s official socialist party, the party led by social activist Jack Layton, is not left wing enough for Buzz Hargrove.

“The continuing rightward drift of the NDP’s own policies,” says the paper, “and the party’s demonstrated willingness to sacrifice progressive priorities in the interests of short-run electoral positioning, makes it clear we must build a more independent and authentic ideological perspective among our members and activists.”

And when union bosses like Buzz Hargrove talk about building a “more independent and authentic ideological perspective among our members,” what they really mean is indoctrinating unionized employees with ultra-left-wing propaganda.

In fact, the CAW is establishing what it calls special Union in Politics Committees, which will be responsible for “educating CAW members about key issues and about politics in general.”

Not that Mr. Hargrove really needs to worry about what unionized employees think. Under Canada’s outdated labour laws, he is free to take forced dues and use them to finance his pet political causes, whether the employees agree with those causes or not.

And they usually don’t agree.

For instance, a Leger poll conducted in 2003 indicated that 76 per cent of unionized employees opposed the use of their dues outside of the workplace on things such as supporting political parties and other causes. Yet, that doesn’t stop union bosses from playing politics, and it certainly won’t stop Mr. Hargrove from trying to achieve his ultimate political goal.

And what is his ultimate goal?

Well, once again, it’s clearly spelled out in the convention paper: He wants to replace Canada’s capitalist system with socialism. “Past attempts to build socialism have met with mixed results. … But that does not stop us from trying,” says the CAW paper.

Mixed results? That’s like saying the Battle of the Little Bighorn was a mixed result.

The reality is that socialism has failed wherever it was tried. That’s why, as an economic theory, it’s more discredited today than Mel Gibson’s view of Jewish history. Indeed, ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union, socialist economies around the world are giving way to economies that emphasize freer trade and freer markets. Maybe that’s why, when it comes to international inspiration, the best the CAW paper can do is cite places such as Bolivia.

Canada is certainly part of the trend toward a more market-oriented economy. As the results of the last federal election make clear, Canadians are getting fed up with the welfare state, with its high taxes, its big inefficient government and its overregulation.

Of course, Mr. Hargrove is daydreaming if he thinks he can really topple capitalism in this country. Lenin, he isn’t.

But what he can possibly do, through what he calls “working class” political activism, and through his subsidizing of left-wing pressure groups with forced dues, is impede Canada’s evolution as a more market-oriented state.

And that would have disastrous consequences.

The world is a competitive place, where Canada is vying not only with the United States and Europe but with dynamic emerging economies such as those of India and China.

To successfully compete in this environment, Canada will need lower tax rates, more efficient government and a flexible work force. Otherwise, our economy will simply fall behind, our standard of living will fall and our country will stagnate.

Mr. Hargrove either doesn’t understand that or he simply doesn’t care. That’s why those of us who do care, who do believe in free enterprise and who do want to embrace the future, must be ready to counter Mr. Hargrove and his left-wing propaganda machine.

After all, we don’t want to end up as a northern Bolivia.

Gerry Nicholls
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