I'm with Brian Topp: The NDP can win as social democrats

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Brian Topp

It was the socially conscious- and environmentally-sound venture capital re-investment fund that really sealed the deal for me. I had already been on the Brian Topp bandwagon for a while, but this clinched it.

Any politician that has the guts to come out against pipelines, against tankers, and against carbon addiction gets a solid grade in my book. More importantly, I'm impressed by any politician who would be vocal in their support for sustainable re-investment, environmental reparations, and moving towards a national energy strategy that focuses on value-added jobs. These were things I was demanding that someone talk about months ago.

I'm a nerd, no doubt, and appreciate the high-level policy that speaks to much of the highly-technical aspects of society that need to be addressed immediately. But Brian also appeals to my activist roots. From coming out vocally against the occupation of Palestinian land, to supporting an increased role for riding associations and labour unions in the party, Brian's party is one of diffused authority and power-sharing.

This ties into the core message of the campaign -- fighting inequality. From re-working our tax code to ensure that it engages and benefits all Canadians -- not just the 1 per cent -- to making university accessible or moving to a low-carbon economy, it's a plan that tackles the fundamental problem of a capitalist system run amok. It's a plan that cements our roots in working-class movements.

No other plan attacks this issue more comprehensively. Two of our brothers in the party are also trying to address this issue. Nathan Cullen is proposing a more moderate level of taxation while Thomas Mulcair is proposing moving the onus of taxation onto cap-and-trade. Both candidates are intelligent and hard-working New Democrats. Unfortunately, Cullen's plan does not go far enough, while Mulcair's policy would see this country becoming ever more dependent on natural resources for government income.

We need a system of taxation that focuses on the wealth created in this country, ensuring that if our system allows for the massive accumulation of wealth at the top, then those people contribute back to our system.

Now, there are criticisms of this plan. Some have said that Canadians won't understand this new tax policy, and see it as another grab from the tax-and-spend New Democrats.

This won't happen. Some other candidate, perhaps, would be unable to carry the banner of a more equitable economy and win the debate. Brian, however, can. Brian can go beyond Stephen Harper's attacks and speak to Canadians about how to get our economy working for workers.

The Liberals can't do that.

Institutionally, the Liberals are a party of big money, big corporations and austerity. Even Stephane Dion's supposed "Green Shift" was a plan that would have hurt workers. It would have failed at its goal of re-imagining our economy as a green one. I do not trust that party to fix the fundamental inequality that plagues our system.

This is why, as destructive as Stephen Harper's government is, I would not sacrifice our successes to become the Liberals 2.0. I do not want Jean Chretien's Canada. I do not want the austerity measures, the conservative social policy and the economy that works only for the financial class.

We must win as New Democrats -- as social democrats -- not as Liberals. I believe that is possible.

But it cannot happen without vital players like Peggy Nash, Niki Ashton, Paul Dewar, Nathan Cullen, Thomas Mulcair and the entire caucus. We need a united front against the Harper Government. One that has its feet in the working class. One that understands how to win the debate on the economy. One that believes in social justice.

We need to lift every child out of poverty. We need to make it possible for every Canadian to access post-secondary education. We need to end our carbon dependence. We need to fight for LGBTTQ rights here at home. We need to stop expeditionary wars abroad.

We need a peaceful, equal and just Canada.

We need Brian Topp.

Justin Ling is a freelance journalist based in Montreal. You can follow him on Twitter or on his blog Demarchy. He live blogged the NDP leadership debate for rabble.ca.

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