New Democratic Party Election Program Moves Left – Electoral Support is Building
CPS Election Analysis 2008 - Week 5
Don Currie – Editor, FOS

Under pressure from organized labour and the realities of a capitalist economy in the grip of a US war induced crisis, the New Democratic Party has moved left in the campaign and strengthened its attack on the Harper Conservatives and their big business war agenda.
The NDP leftward tilt results from a realization that competing with the Liberals to become the official opposition was a no-win electoral policy. As the NDP has shifted its main attack to the neo-con policies of the Harper Conservatives, it has strengthened the working class and peace appeal of its overall reform program and garnered more support. Polls show the NDP currently neck and neck with the Liberals.
The NDP program calls for an immediate withdrawal of Canadian armed forces from the US-NATO war in Afghanistan and proposes a Canadian government diplomatic offensive to bring about a UN brokered negotiated end to the conflict. The NDP is calling for a return of Canada to what it calls its role as a “global peacekeeper” and pledges to increase Canada’s contribution to fighting global poverty to 0.7% of GDP.
NDP leader Jack Layton sees a reduction in war expenditures as a source of new revenue to pay for the NDP reform program. The cost of Canadian participation in the war in Afghanistan is about $1.2 billion annually and rising. Layton says the costs of the war in Afghanistan are much higher than the Harper Government admits and has called for an independent assessment of the real costs of the war. On top of what it is spending on the war in Afghanistan the Harper Government has pledged to spend $492 billion over 20 years on a buildup of Canadian armed forces.
The centre piece of the NDP program is to return corporate tax rates to its previous 22% and cancel a Conservative-Liberal supported $50 billion tax cut and divert those monies to fund an improved public health care system, affordable housing, increased child care payments, improved public transit and seniors programs.
The NDP program is calling for an additional 220,000 new child care spaces, increasing child care allowances up to $5000 for children to age 18 for families earning $188,000 and less. The program calls for support to reduce student loan burdens and to train, tuition free, thousands of new doctors, nurses and other medical professionals who commit to work 10 years in family medicine.
Jack Layton asserts the NDP program will not increase the deficit and is affordable given current federal government revenues. Layton’s caveat was the plan would be adjusted to account for changes in the economy.
Layton argues that investing in Canadian cities, expanded public transit will both reduce climate change and create new “green jobs.” Layton attacked the Conservative policy of tax reductions to corporations as actually a formula for killing jobs, citing the example of John Deere that accepted Conservative government tax reductions and then promptly shut its doors throwing 800 employees out of work.
The NDP program is an advance over previous reform programs of the social democrats. There is an improved anti-monopoly content and a definite appeal to working class and urban voters hurt by the loss of manufacturing jobs and the rising prices for gasoline and bank charges.
The NDP program is bound to unite and intensify attacks from the right as Dion and Harper are forced onto the defensive over their blatant pro-corporate tax policies. Dion, Harper and May will tend to gang up on the NDP in the leadership debates because of the weaknesses in their own programs. The NDP program, far in advance of the Greens, that relies on the environmental plea to corporations to “reform themselves” will help to reverse leakage of NDP voters to the Greens and Liberals and may even have the effect of attracting votes from soft Conservative support in urban ridings.
It is these political realities that are part of the overall process of helping millions of voters to see through the fog of media bias, corporate propaganda and simplistic neo-con theories and to strengthen those pro-labour, peace trends among Canadians that seek a way out of the current malaise of war and economic crisis.
The Communist Party of Canada has presented the most advanced of all of the anti-monopoly programs of any party in the federal election. It calls for public ownership and nationalization of the energy sector as the basis for far reaching economic reform and recovery. It is such far reaching demands that are vital to strengthening what must become the dominant trend in working class politics
Left Turn Canada!