Socialist Party of Ontario Founding Convention

78 posts / 0 new
Last post
Michael Laxer Michael Laxer's picture
Socialist Party of Ontario Founding Convention

To start the discussion, I am posting this statement made last week. Since then there have been a few developments, including a venue at a hotel in DT Toronto, etc...all worthy of other threads in themselves. But for now, the thread is about the reality that a new party is being founded and what this should or should not look like.

 

While the usual suspects of the NDP apologists are obviously welcome to respond, and I hope you do, please note that accusing us all of being Liberal agents is pro-forma stupid and comes right out of the neo-Stalinist playbook. I am sure you will do it anyway!

 

But for those who wish a more serious discourse, here is our statement...

 

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

 

A little over two years ago, a group of activists formed the Ginger Group.  Comprised of both NDP and non-NDP members, the group sought to find new ways to influence the political discourse within Ontario and to reintroduce left-wing and Socialist ideals to counter the neo-liberal economic philosophy that has attacked the welfare state and public services, grossly exacerbated the distribution of wealth between the rich and poor and, finally, nearly destroyed the financial system it was meant to enrich in 2008.

 

Since its initial founding, Ginger Group members have engaged individual party members on ideas, both on political and economic policy itself, as well as how such policies could best be put into effect within the Ontario context.  While those in the Ginger Group still believe that left-wing movements need representation within the parliamentary process, we no longer believe that the New Democratic Party is a suitable institution to fulfill this role.

 

To that end, the Ginger Group's Steering Committee is formally announcing a convention to establish a Socialist Party of Ontario, to be held on the weekend of May 27-29th in Toronto.*  The objective of the convention will be to establish the constitution and policies that will form the basis of the party.  We encourage all those opposed to neo-liberalism, racism, sexism, homophobia and who support an egalitarian society, based on principles of justice and fairness to attend.

 

Full convention details will be released in the next few days, but rest assured, as is our intent, all leftists are welcome and anyone can present a motion. Every motion presented will be voted on and every motion passed will be party policy. We will NOT ignore our membership! Even our name itself will be decided at the convention.

 

If you wish to become a member, wish to attend the convention or for further information please email us at info@gingerproject.org or contact us on Facebook.

 

It's never too late to write the future.

 

In solidarity,

Socialist Party of Ontario Steering Committee

We will post all convention information in the very near future, but you can still join or get more information before then by emailing info@thegingerproject.org

pragmaticidealist

You are probably wasting your time.  But in any case, I will offer one piece of advice.  Don't call yourselves the Socialist Party.  Other than those already predisposed to your ideas, and hence in no need of convincing, people shy away from that label.  That piece of poor marketing would doom you from the start........if the project itself hasn't already done that.

Michael Laxer Michael Laxer's picture

Perhaps, but that has been said of every left movement, ever. We are always wasting our time! Amazing that we ever got anything done.

If the label Socialist dooms a Socialist party, well so be it. That would be post-modernist irony I guess, and I have no doubt that pragmatic types can roll the eyes and say I told you so...but that would hardly seem a victory. Unless, of course, a real victory for left ideas is not what we actually want.

pragmaticidealist

Victory for the left fine.  But be realistic.  There will be no socialist revolution.  The left needs to adapt to changing circumstances if they are going to be successful.  They need to evolve.  If that means compromising on a few things here and there, so be it.  To be so stubborn and uncompromising is not only naive, it is the trait of people who have no place leading anyone.

Michael Laxer Michael Laxer's picture

We are not revolutionary socialists. As we have opened all points up to those who wish to participate, we are not uncompromising or stubborn. So I think you have missed the point.

trippie

Use the word Socialist as often as possible. Do not deviate for it's meaning. Don't let people tell you that you should not use the word. It has a very specific meaning and that meaning is the key to the policies your group should undertake.

Anything other then Socialist is not socialism.

 

Do not try to use the Keynes economic formula, It has already been used and has come up as a failure. As the proof is the Capitalists abandoned it years ago as it does not work if there is not large profits to pay for it all. If it was working so great then they would never have left it in the dust bin of history.

 

Stick to Socialism and what it means, the Social ownership of the means of production, democratically controlled, used for the good of Society. The uniting of the worlds working class as one.

Democracy Democracy Democracy. No political parties, Governments change as needed, not according to set time tables. No leader, or leaders. Counsels that must first talk to the people before any decision is made. It maybe slow but so what, decisions must be thought out properly.

Do not advance Nationalism, as it is a fascist ploy.

Have a plan on how the Productive forces will build the things we need like housing, food supply, clothing, education.

 

Reformulate how a Government is set up. Do not model it after our current bourgeois set up.

 

Never us Capitalist economic models to find the funding... Instead, figure out how the means of production will be used by the productive forces to build the society that the citizens democratically decide they  needed.

 

For example, in Toronto the Transit system..The people democratically decide what they want through suggestions and debates, the experts are brought in to figure out what is possible and then add in their two cents. Then a plan is drawn up. Then the productive forces gather the needed resources to build it. Since the means of production are socially owned, we can use any resource at our disposal No delays, no cost over runs. The only thing you need to do is marshal the people into action.

 

Have a well thought out plan on how the Capitalist economy will be discarded and how a Socialist economy will be built.

 

Time lines, time lines , time lines.....

 

How will things be distributed. Were do you get the food, how do you get a house or apartment?

 

Figure out how the police will be disbanded and how a new police force will be built. What is the model?

 

Figure out how you will put the Capitalists on trial for the crimes against humanity they have committed.

 

What will a judicial system look like under Socialism?

 

You want a Socialist voice in Canada. These are but a fraction of the things you need to do.

duncan cameron

I attended a meeting in Ottawa in the late 1970s to discuss creating a socialist party in Ontario. Quite a number of the participants wanted to broaden the agenda. Much discussion was about a socialist feminist party for instance. in our workshop, a woman from Manitoba talked about the experience in her province, where the NDP had won power and disappointed its socialist members. She pointed out that creating a socialist party meant first and foremost fighting it out with the NDP, including with socialists in the NDP who were attached to the party despite their serious differences with its direction. In other words what we were doing was divisive, first. She did not think we could make the NDP go away. I did not hear anything else that day that made more sense. Nothing came of the meeting. I stayed away from partisan party politics after that, until the Rae victory when I was drawn in to the NDP policy debates, mostly as a fiscal policy critic, though I supported them on fair taxes.

I found the Horvath ads very sad. Campaigning using the lines from the other side, only strengths the other side. This inability to connect seems endemic to the Ontario NDP. Except for the Rae win, the party has not been able to get out the working class vote. It does not even appear to represent the working class.

Part of the problem goes back to the expulsion of the waffle. The party decapitated itself by doing that. The intellectual leadership has been left to too small a number of people.

My question for you Michael is if you cannot convince the NDP to represent socialist practice, how do you convince Ontario?

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Why not a new national, versus Ontario party?  I have a few NDP FB friends who have quit the federal party in disgust over a myriad of issues, many of them revolving around decisions Layton has taken. I've also read a few socialist websites quite critical of the NDP - some of these are a few years old, and one of them is the NDP Socialist Caucus. The general consensus is that the NDP has moved too close to the centre and has abandoned its traditional support on the left. I can give examples of specific concerns these folks have if requested (although it'll take time to gather all these together).

KenS

Official NDP Apologist sez: surprise, surpise.

And please do convince Ontario. Forget the NDP, its hopeless.

Slumberjack

Whatever success you have in organizing a new socialist party will be wasted once you run up against the jackals within the ruling political apparatus.  And then there's the media to contend with if you ever manage to do something to capture their attention.  You can't expect to lay anything at the feet of this well entrenched and mutually supportive power structure and hope for anything other than being stepped on or ignored.  Whatever finally emerges in the form of policy would stand the best chance of exposure by taking it directly to the people via the street, in combination with a list of the existing political establishment's treacheries that should never be reconciled with.

Michael Laxer Michael Laxer's picture

@ Duncan. That is a fair question. It is, perhaps, THE question!

And I don't have a cookie cutter answer for it, as, to be honest, I don't fully know! Maybe one of my other sisters or brothers can answer better, but I would say that in my mind, we convince Ontario by focusing on shifting the political discourse and NOT on winning seats. The only point in a new political vehicle would be to push a socialist agenda politically, and to do so no matter the ups-and-downs of parliamentary tactics.

I think that we have ceded so much ground ideologically, that the first objective would be reassert that there can be a real Left agenda at all! The hope is, that as in Quebec and Ireland, we can shift the ground of the discussion enough that the ideas that were taken for granted in the '70's are discussed at all.

I suppose I am saying, the alternative to trying is doing nothing. It is a choice that I find to be a call to action.

ovechkin

What about a democratic socialist party situated somewhere between the NDP and Socialism, kind of where the NDP once was. Perhaps emphasize democratic and electoral reform foremost. Without a broad base of civic minded and engaged citizens, I don't see much hope for anything. Then advance a social and economic justice agenda. And don't forget the party part. My biggest disappointment with party politics has been the absence of passion, joy, and fun. Changing the world should be blissful. 

How about the Stephen Lewis Party. He calls himself a democratic socialist, he has name recognition. Everybody loves him...

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Actually, I think I get it. An Ontario Socialist Party,  Quebec Solidaire, and other provincial Socialist Parties.... wow, could have a huge impact. I withdraw my suggestion for a Canada Socialist Party. A Network Of Provincial Socialist Parties could have an overwhelming influence on the federal NDP and even the federal Liberals.

KenS

waiting for the Overwhelming.

 

Can I do that at the beach?

Slumberjack

We don't need any cults either.  It's bad enough that the NDP unearths Tommy Douglas whenever it suits them.

Slumberjack

Boom Boom wrote:
Actually, I think I get it. An Ontario Socialist Party,  Quebec Solidaire, and other provincial Socialist Parties.... wow, could have a huge impact. I withdraw my suggestion for a Canada Socialist Party. A Network Of Provincial Socialist Parties could have an overwhelming influence on the federal NDP and even the federal Liberals.

I don't know Boom Boom.  They're not listening anymore, and I don't expect they ever will.  They canned their own internal socialist movement after all.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Slumberjack wrote:
I don't know Boom Boom.  They're not listening anymore, and I don't expect they ever will.  They canned their own internal socialist movement after all.

The leadership will change, though. And if this new movement of provincial socialists can take root, I fail to see how even the most jaded federal NDP folks can fail to be influenced by what's developing provincially.

genstrike

haven't the impossibilists beaten you to the name?

Pogo Pogo's picture

Best of luck.

Slumberjack

Boom Boom wrote:
And if this new movement of provincial socialists can take root, I fail to see how even the most jaded federal NDP folks can fail to be influenced by what's developing provincially.

It's not the jaded ones that need convincing, but rather the pie eyed believers who haven't a clue among them.

Life, the unive...

That kind of talk will win a lot of converts. 

trippie

Ya, do not concentrate on winning elections... Concentrate on building concensis in the working class...By all means intervien in the bourgeois elections with working class candidates, but winning is not the priority.

 

When the conditions are right, as they will be just look at Toronto and what Ford is doing, you will be ready with the answers and the experience.

 

Cause if you concentrate on winning, you turn into the NDP...

peterjcassidy peterjcassidy's picture

I assume you are forming a party intending to  run candidates in the next provincial election. else why call yourself a party? Is there anything that might lead you to think you can have a significant impact,  apart from having a "discourse"  in that next election. Will your party running candidates possibly  make a difference in how many votes and how many seats the Liberals, Conservatives or New Democrats get?  Do you anticipate placing above 5th in any riding in Ontario - ahead of one of the Conservatives, Liberals, New Democrats or Greens?   Tough but fair questions?

trippie

Another thing... the world working class is ready for a Socialist answer to the Capitalist problem.

 

Again in Toronto, people gravitated around Ford because he gave a simple answer to the Capitalist problem. He phrased it by saying he was going to "Stop the Gravy Train".

 

It's a such a generalized statement that people could put their frustrations into it.

 

In the end his answer to the Capitalist problem is to make the world more Capitalist. This in fact will just piss people off even more.

 

You have to be ready for that time with a Socialist answer. Other wise you will have religious leaders and every other kind of demagogue fill the void.

 

 

Be ready, be prepared....

 

Snert Snert's picture

Quote:

Cause if you concentrate on winning, you turn into the NDP...

 

But surely there already exist left-wing parties whose ideological purity is untainted by compromise. Why not join forces with them?

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Perhaps Canadians have lived in a democratic wasteland for so long they have forgotten--or perhaps they never knew--that the purpose of a political party is not necessarily to govern or to "win power," but to earn purchase on the public political discourse. Since the Socialist wing of the NDP has been refused this by the party apparatus, it makes sense to go it alone. Running candidates is part of that, of course, but why must "impact" remain divorced from "discourse"? And why should a new political party be judged at all on its showing in its first ever election?

Rather than votes, I think the biggest challenge a socialist party faces is avoiding the trap that so many similar socialist groups/associations/parties in Canada fall into, which is failing to diversify its governing members and base. If this is going to be yet another left-wing party of old white men, I'd say that Ontario doesn't need them. I don't know Michael Laxer, but I've been led to believe that he's aware of this challenge.

NorthReport

Good point - who is on the steering committee?

Caissa

My first year political science course (dark ages) accentuated that two of the roles of political parties are interest articulation and interest aggregation.

Slumberjack

Catchfire wrote:
.....I think the biggest challenge a socialist party faces is avoiding the trap that so many similar socialist groups/associations/parties in Canada fall into, which is failing to diversify its governing members and base. If this is going to be yet another left-wing party of old white men,...

No matter how things start out, that seems to always become the regressive trap. In order to vie for positioning nearest to the table leg of power, there are some friends that one may encounter along the way that don't quite make for good company at the banquet. In order to get invited to the old white man's club, one must begin ditching issues, positions and people that may cause them embarrassment.

duncan cameron

My point to Michael is why is he (or one of his group) not running for the presidency of the Ontario NDP and campaigning on the points raised in his groups letter? It is tough to bring people together, but real political action includes mobilization. In France at the moment the cantonal elections are taking place. In a canton near Bordeaux over 2,000 people came out to hear a Green candidate speak to a public meeting about local issues. There are not 100,000 people in the canton. The election itself was a huge letdown, nationally only 44 per cent of the population bothered to vote. But somewhere in the French body politic people are stirring. Nuclear power which provides 80 of all electricity has people asking serious probing questions.

Are Michael and his Ontario Socialists going to get things moving? I would be interested in hearing from people who think that the potential for a new socialist party is rooted in real experience. Certainly real issues are being ignored. But is a new party the way to engage people to raise them? 

Life, the unive...

.

MegB

duncan cameron wrote:

Are Michael and his Ontario Socialists going to get things moving? I would be interested in hearing from people who think that the potential for a new socialist party is rooted in real experience. Certainly real issues are being ignored. But is a new party the way to engage people to raise them? 

The NDP has had abundant opportunity to address issues that're important working people, marginalized groups, and leftists who feel disenfranchised by the mainstream so-called left.  Why beat a dead horse?  The NDP - ONDP in particular - have made it clear that they can't work with big labour, are unwilling or unable to realistically represent the interests of us plebes, and simply can't garner the energy to 'bring it' to provincial and federal politics.

While, like Catchfire, I suspect that encouraging diversity of membership will be a problem, I'm kinda excited to see how things go with this new party.

Krago

pragmaticidealist wrote:

You are probably wasting your time.  But in any case, I will offer one piece of advice.  Don't call yourselves the Socialist Party.  Other than those already predisposed to your ideas, and hence in no need of convincing, people shy away from that label.  That piece of poor marketing would doom you from the start........if the project itself hasn't already done that.

What about the Solidarity Party of Ontario/Ontario Solidaire?  Your slogan could be: Solidarity for an Infinite Period of Time!

Michael Laxer Michael Laxer's picture

As to the other CRITICAL issue raised, diversity is of fundamental importance. You cannot remake a society by imitating either its structure or its overall homogeneity. This is the irony of left parties so often using bourgeois power structures and systems as their model for internal governance.

A top-down, hierarchical, leader driven, old-boys club is NOT what we have in mind! It is the antithesis of everything we seek.

Is the struggle against the reassertion of these patterns hard? Yes. But that does not make it unworthy.

We are proposing to change the culture on the democratic left in Ontario by not only talking inclusively but by acting inclusively in that we are seeking to have a constitution based on democratic oversight and maximum membership involvement and control over the party and party policy.

Part of the entire point of the initiative is to repudiate the idea of top-down party decision making in a party of the left. The power should flow up from the membership. No slates. No hidden policies passed at conventions to collect dust in a policy book no one ever sees. No "Leader" but rather executives and Spokespersons who have to face annual re-election. Real socialist democracy. Internally, not just in theory.

It is of critical importance to everyone involved that this be as open, diverse and democratic as possible.

@Boom Boom "

 

"Actually, I think I get it. An Ontario Socialist Party,  Quebec Solidaire, and other provincial Socialist Parties.... wow, could have a huge impact. I withdraw my suggestion for a Canada Socialist Party. A Network Of Provincial Socialist Parties could have an overwhelming influence on the federal NDP and even the federal Liberals."

 

 

 YES!

 

@Peter "I assume you are forming a party intending to  run candidates in the next provincial election. else why call yourself a party? Is there anything that might lead you to think you can have a significant impact,  apart from having a "discourse"  in that next election. Will your party running candidates possibly  make a difference in how many votes and how many seats the Liberals, Conservatives or New Democrats get?  Do you anticipate placing above 5th in any riding in Ontario - ahead of one of the Conservatives, Liberals, New Democrats or Greens?   Tough but fair questions

Totally fair questions. We do intend to run candidates. My preference is that this not be done in NDP held ridings, but it is not my decision. As to how we place, well, who knows? The Reform and Green Parties started very small, as did Quebec Solidaire, and they went on to have real impacts. Coming in 4th or 5th is likely, but it does not mean that there is no impact, and nor does it mean that this will remain the case in 2015. This is a process, and we would all admit that it is not an easy one.

But nothing of importance has ever been easy; so I guess that that, in itself, is not an argument against what we are doing from our point of view. I cannot speak for everyone, but on this issue I know this is how people feel.

Michael Laxer Michael Laxer's picture

HA! Sorry, about the last sentence that looks like the clause on your insurance policy that says, in fact, you are not covered at all! I have no idea why that happened! 

 

Michael Laxer Michael Laxer's picture

@Duncan

"My point to Michael is why is he (or one of his group) not running for the presidency of the Ontario NDP and campaigning on the points raised in his groups letter?"

 

And how are we to do this? The party cancelled its convention! There is NO internal opportunity prior to the provincial election to raise these issues within the party at all. If candidates can be prevented from seeking nominations, party elections reversed or annulled without due cause when the party does not like the results, constitutionally mandated conventions cancelled by email votes thereby deferring policy and executive discussions until AFTER the next election, and executive members removed from office in manners that are clearly not acceptable, then we simply cannot work internally.
In a sense, it was not our decision, it was theirs.

 

Further, to be fair to all involved, it is not "my" group. I was elected the "Acting Spokesperson" but the group has no leader, and, like Quebec Solidaire, we will be proposing a constitution that does not include a leader in the traditional sense.

 

RosaL

pragmaticidealist wrote:

You are probably wasting your time.  But in any case, I will offer one piece of advice.  Don't call yourselves the Socialist Party.  Other than those already predisposed to your ideas, and hence in no need of convincing, people shy away from that label.  That piece of poor marketing would doom you from the start........if the project itself hasn't already done that.

That's not my experience. Where do you live?? 

Lachine Scot

Congrats for this founding!  I hope it does start to have success along the model of Quebec Solidaire.

From an Ontarian living in the West.

NDPP

Great Idea! Good luck this can go far...

trippie

@ Snert post 24

 

Bro,you gotta get your head out of the sand...there are no ideological pure left winged parties... And were did you see me ask for an ideological party to be built or for that matter a party in and of itself...

So basicly you didn't really understand what I am calling for and your ignorance makes you spout off with drivle.

Why would I want to compramise with people that are trying to exploit me?

What  points should I compromise on, something like this? OK guys you can exploit me, but you know jsut make my taxes a little lower. Or maybe this, Ok guys you can exploit me but you know make my rent a little cheaper..Or this, ok guys you can exploit men but you know just don't polute the evironment so much. or maybe like this, Ok guys you can exploit me but you know, don;t make my health payments so high.

 

You mean I should compromise with the peole that want to exploit me cause that would be fair. You know, the middle ground. Cause I should take into account the fact that they feel they deserve to hold me down and I should accept people for what they are.

 

ya I should compramise, cause I wouldn't want to piss those exploiters off, they have feelsing to.

trippie

Gaining power.....

it seems a lot of people think that you need to have people in govenment to have power. This is furthest from the truth.

If you wan tpower and wantt o make changes to your environment all you need is the ability to marshal a large group of people in one direction.

It's a known fact that the bourgeois government will not implement a Socialist economy.You may be able to gain some concessions from them like Social programs, but they will work around the clock taking them back and in the end they will.

Why? Because they don't compromise, They retreat so they can gain their strength back.

So any new Socialist group should concentrate on building community organisations that work in a cohesive manner. Implement Social policies at ground level, form our own police forces that will take power away from the bourgeois security forces, have our own charter of right, systamaticly stop participaing in their economy. Challenge them at every turn.

 

Gather money buy up blocks of propery and turn it into Socialsit housing.

 

 

But before any of this can happen you need acomprehensive plan on how things will look, what eh human relations will be, how the transition will occur. Bring in peoplefromall levels oflife, teachers, farmers, factory workers,

 

Stop paying taxes I mean every aspect of participation in the Capitalist economy slowers comes to a hault.

 

You want a peaceful transition and not a bloody revolution then don't concentrate on taking power,concentrate on just implementing a Socialist economy.

Look we don't have top ask them to build a Socialist economy,we just have to start living in one.

 

OK, so what does this Socialist economy/life look like? 

 

Stuart_Parker

I guess three months have elapsed and it's time to come back to rabble.ca.

I think that the impact of the Socialist Party could be positive or negative largely based on one single strategic issue: will it field candidates in constituencies where progressives are in contention? If the answer is "no," then I think the party will be a net asset to the Ontario political scene. If the party limits its candidates only to constituencies that have no chance of electing a progressive (probably about 75), there is no real downside to it entering the process. If, on the other hand, it runs a bunch fo stunt candidates in ridings like Welland or Trinity-Spadina, it is only serving to move all things left-wing further to the margins.

The question then becomes, how can the party contribute positively? In my view, it can only contribute positively if it manages to have a high enough profile to actually raise issues, which means running candidates in pretty much all ?75? because basically the only way fringe parties get noticed is to run a ridiculous number of candidates. If the party simply wishes to field candidates in a handful of ridings, one must ask what utility these candidates will actually produce. Only 8% of Canadians are interested in who their local candidate is and, in all likelihood, that 8% are overwhelmingly located in rural ridings with strong local media or ridings with high profile rogue candidates like Beauce or Portneuf. If the party isn't interested in pulling that off, it would be well to ask what it thinks it's doing.

More positively, good luck Michael. I hope this allows you to express the views many of us hold but are outside the political mainstream.

adma

I kinda fear this might turn out to be like the Progressive Canadian Party of the Left...

trippie

Staurt, who cares what happens to all the other laft parties and how they place?  Oops sorry, better not field a candidate that might make people think voting for theNDP is awast of their time.

Stuart_Parker

Trippie, I assume the purpose of the party is to get socialist ideas back into public discourse. How they place isn't really a concern; how much media they get is. And adma, I think that's a very real risk.

trippie

Risk of what? Maintaining the status quo?

Michael Laxer Michael Laxer's picture

As an FYI the convention will be held at the Bond Place Hotel, 65 Dundas St. E., Toronto, Saturday May 28th starting at 9 am. There will be a social and constitutional meeting prior to that. Full details to follow Tuesday a.m.!

adma

A few doors away from Mackenzie House...I wonder if any historical symbolism behind that

Krago

Michael Laxer wrote:

As an FYI the convention will be held at the Bond Place Hotel, 65 Dundas St. E., Toronto, Saturday May 28th starting at 9 am. There will be a social and constitutional meeting prior to that. Full details to follow Tuesday a.m.!

You're having a social (i.e. drinking) and a Constitutional meeting prior to 9am in the morning?!  Good luck with that!

Michael Laxer Michael Laxer's picture

Krago...the social will be the night before. The constitutional meeting almost 6 weeks before.

Even I don't Jim Beam before noon!

Michael Laxer Michael Laxer's picture

But you are right...bad wording!

Pages