Who is afraid to Leap?


[Four articles on the reaction to the Leap Manifesto, first from Rabble]


Rather than fearing the Leap Manifesto, let's bring on the debate


By Linda McQuaig, Rabble, April 15, 2016


That silly Leap Manifesto -- giving itself away right in the subtitle, which calls for "a Canada based on caring for the Earth and one another." No wonder it provoked fury and outrage.

As my colleague Thomas Walkom pointed out earlier this week, reports of the manifesto's scariness have been greatly exaggerated; its call for a transition from fossil fuels to green energy is solidly based in science and widely accepted.

So the ruckus over the document is the curious thing.

Now that we've sent Stephen Harper and his climate Neanderthals packing, we're supposed to move on, confident that the planet is in safe hands under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, neither of whom have climate-denying skeletons jangling in their closets.

Amid this newfound contentment, the Leap Manifesto is a discordant prod, a reminder that the reassuring words of our new political leaders are undermined by their active promotion of more pipelines, which will lock us into fossil fuels for decades to come.

Notley, the darling of Canada's progressives for single-handedly slaying a four-decade-old Conservative dynasty, was quick to denounce the manifesto as "ill-informed" after delegates at the NDP federal convention voted to debate it at the grassroots level for the next two years.

This led to a pile-on of media commentators outraged at the prospect of debate breaking out across the country.

Imagine the menace of citizens getting together to discuss what is to be done about climate change -- which a 2003 Pentagon report described in cataclysmic terms, concluding it would lead to a future where "once again, warfare would define human life."

Of course, Notley is in a tough spot. Alberta's disastrous economic situation -- for which she bears no responsibility -- would be much better if past Alberta governments had imposed higher oil royalties and used the proceeds to diversify. Norway did that, and is comfortably surviving the oil price collapse astride a $1-trillion heritage fund.

The NDP premier is struggling to keep Alberta's powerful oil lobby onside, offering up the promise that her credibility as a progressive could win them the "social license" they need for further oilsands development.

But this requires she take action on climate, or at least appear to.

Hence, her widely touted Climate Leadership Plan demands tough reductions in greenhouse gas emissions -- from some sectors. Against the oil industry, it wields a feather.

While other sectors must cut emissions, the oilsands -- Canada's fast-growing source of emissions -- will be permitted to actually grow by 43 per cent, notes Gordon Laxer, professor emeritus of political economy at the University of Alberta and author of After the Sands.

Trying to reduce emissions while allowing the oilsands to grow by 43 per cent is like trying to reduce lung cancer while giving away cigarettes at Canada's Wonderland.

If, for instance, Parliament were to pass the Climate Change Accountability Act (introduced by the late NDP leader Jack Layton and passed by the House of Commons during minority governments in 2008 and 2010), the continued growth of the oilsands at the pace Notley prescribes would present an enormous problem.

Under such a scenario, Laxer says, oilsands emissions would take up fully 84 per cent of Canada's total allowable emissions by 2050, leaving little room for Canadians still struggling to wean themselves off fossil fuels.

What's needed is clearly more than the post-Neanderthal Canadian political world is offering. What's needed is, as Bernie Sanders might say, a revolution.

That's a daunting challenge, but not an impossible one -- with resolute political leadership.

Let's recall the unwavering campaign launched by then finance minister Paul Martin to reduce the federal deficit "come hell or high water!" In the name of appeasing disgruntled bondholders in New York, Martin took an axe to federal spending, resulting in thousands of Canadians losing their jobs and millions more suffering under "austerity."

The transition off carbon could be less painful, since, with proper investment, a green technology future promises to be, in the words of NDP elder statesman Stephen Lewis, "the greatest job creation program on earth."

So rather than fearing the Leap Manifesto, I say bring it on. It -- or something like it -- should be debated in every classroom, church basement, union hall and Tim Hortons.

It's time we considered the possibility that saving the planet is as important as placating a bunch of New York bondholders.

Linda McQuaig is a journalist and author. Her most recent book (with Neil Brooks) is The Trouble with Billionaires: How the Super-Rich Hijacked the World and How We Can Take It Back. This column originally appeared in the Toronto Star

Above from: http://rabble.ca/columnists/2016/04/rather-fearing-leap-manifesto-lets-b...  

From: http://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2016/04/14/NDP-Leap-Manifesto-Advice/?utm_sour...  

My Advice to NDP: Look Before You Leap. Then Leap

By Crawford Kilian, The Tyee, April 14, 2016

And don't let Canada's punditariat restrict or stifle your debate. 

It's ambitious, but not capitalism's end as mainstream columnists fret.

To judge from the reaction of the Canadian punditariat, the New Democrats' convention in Edmonton was a murder-suicide. Tom Mulcair was ousted (and immediately resurrected himself as interim leader), and the convention voted to discuss the Leap Manifesto -- which everyone took to be political self-immolation.

Even the urbane Robin Sears, who's an old New Democrat backroom guy, associated the Leapers with the party's ancient struggles with Trotskyites and the Waffle movement. The Leapers, Sears said, were just the latest incarnation of the NDP's "Birkenstock Left." They posed a "fateful choice" for the NDP:

"It can once again indulge its tribal myths about public ownership and an Arctic nation kept affluent and warmed by thousands of acres of solar panels. Or it can pick up the baton that Jack Layton bequeathed to Thomas Mulcair, that of a serious national progressive party disciplined enough to be rewarded with power.

"If it chooses the Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders, Socialist Caucus book of children's political fairy tales, they will have decisively buried that dream, consigned its achievement to a distant future generation."

Lawrence Martin harmonized with Sears like Simon with Garfunkel: "Under the leadership of Jack Layton and Tom Mulcair, it was moving into the mainstream. Now, with the rejection of Mr. Mulcair at the Edmonton convention and the rise of the Leapers, it is returning to the days of dogma -- days when it didn't even pretend to be a serious contender for the prize of governance."

L. Ian MacDonald said the party had been "hijacked by the loony left."

B.C.'s own Les Leyne quoted provincial NDP leader John Horgan: "We won't be proceeding under any Leap Manifesto... under my leadership."

And Tasha Kheiriddin of iPolitics speculated that the "hard-left" Leap Manifesto would win support from Quebec separatists, driving other Quebecers into the arms of the Trudeau Liberals in 2019.

Accept the status quo, or else

All such commentators operated from unspoken premises: they define the mainstream as acceptance of the status quo. Only a "mainstream" party or politician deserves respect, because only "mainstream" parties have a chance of winning power. And winning power is the only purpose of engaging in politics.

Without realizing it, our pundits have vindicated Noam Chomsky, who years ago observed:

"The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum -- even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there's free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate."

Ironically, Justin Trudeau owes his present power to the NDP's careful paddling in the Tory-defined mainstream during the years when Stephen Harper was the status quo. Mulcair earned mainstream pundits' praise by his Question Period interrogation of Harper over the Duffy scandal. That was a mainstream Opposition's job. He made good TV drama, and the pundits loved him.

The pundits (and the NDP) meanwhile derided Trudeau for his feeble presence in Question Period, and his frequent absences. The third-party cutie-pie ignored them. He was off in the wilds of the grassroots, meeting people and rebuilding a Liberal organization that the mainstream pundits (and the NDP) had written off as the Blackberry of politics.

The revenge of Ulysses

In October 2015, the cutie-pie came back like Ulysses to Ithaca, to slaughter the enemies who'd taken over his palace and to take his place on his father's throne. Like Ulysses, Trudeau is a classic ironic hero, the man who is far more than he seems to those locked into mainstream thinking.

The pundits, seeing how Trudeau slaughtered the Conservatives and New Democrats, have plunged into the new mainstream. For the foreseeable future, that mainstream will be what Trudeau defines it to be, and the pundits will run a lively Chomskyan debate within the limits Trudeau sets.

But even an ironic hero can't solve all political problems. I've read the Leap Manifesto, and to me it's about as radical and "hard left" as explaining to your 16-year-old why she should stop smoking right now, not after she's finished her current carton plus the two stashed under her bed.

The manifesto is short, under 1,400 words. It says very little that we didn't know in the 1960s and '70s, when Greenpeace got going in Vancouver. Climate science in the past 20 years has only confirmed it, and we now contemplate a catastrophe in progress.

We Canadians contribute to that catastrophe with every barrel of oil and cubic foot of gas we ship. Whatever social services we fund out of our taxes on those exports, the exports will only make things worse. We can't justify doing it just because it means jobs; gangster kids shoot at one another to preserve their jobs peddling crap that their customers are addicted to.

The Leap Manifesto is telling the kids that they can have a pretty good life without selling crap, but they'll have to learn more than driving skills and marksmanship. To the kids, this is way outside the mainstream of acceptable thought, just as automobiles were ridiculous to makers of horse-drawn surreys with a fringe on the top.

If the authors and signers of the Leap Manifesto deserve criticism, it's for not spelling out a clear program to create green jobs for oil patch workers, jobs that would bring them electric cars and homes warmed by solar panels. But that's really the job of the political parties -- at least the parties looking beyond 2019 to where their kids and grandchildren will spend the rest of their lives.

Those parties, whoever leads them, will need to ignore the pundits and their anxieties about staying in the mainstream and winning power.

No matter who defines the present mainstream, it will soon carry us over the falls and onto the rocks. This is indeed the time for a leap, and the longer we postpone it, the worse our chances of survival.  [Tyee]

Crawford Kilian is a contributing editor of The Tyee.

From: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/sorry-pundits-of-canada-the-leap-...  

Sorry, pundits of Canada. The Leap will bring us together 

AVI LEWIS,  Globe and Mail, Apr. 14, 2016 

Avi Lewis is a journalist, filmmaker, and one of many people behind the Leap Manifesto

In the past week, I’ve been called a “downtown Toronto political dilettante,” and “a millstone around the neck” of Alberta NDP Premier Rachel Notley. The Leap Manifesto, which I helped write and launch with dozens of others from across the country, has been called “ungenerous, short-sighted and…a betrayal of the people who voted NDP” in Alberta.

And that was just from people I consider friends.

It’s time to speak some truth about this controversial document. In fact, the Leap Manifesto came out of a meeting (yes, held in Toronto) that brought together dozens of social-movement activists from six provinces: Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario, Saskatchewan, B.C. and Alberta. It is a consensus statement – literally written by committee – that reflects a common vision from across a spectrum of different causes.

That meeting was attended by First Nations living downstream from the tar sands and leaders from some of the biggest trade unions in Canada. There were refugee advocates, anti-poverty activists, and environmentalists of many stripes (yes, there is a huge range.)

While much has been said about the Leap Manifesto’s controversial call for no new fossil-fuel infrastructure, the other 14 demands in the document reflect a strong progressive consensus in Canada. The need for a green energy revolution, massive reinvestment in health, education and child care, big spending on transit and housing and respecting indigenous land rights – these may be framed with urgency in the Leap Manifesto, but they are hardly controversial.

What makes the Leap different is that it connects the dots, showing how all these demands are integral to a fair and ambitious response to climate change. It’s not a list – it’s a story.

The Leap’s least controversial idea is that we need to wean our economy off fossil fuels as quickly as possible – certainly by mid-century – which means an immediate energy transition. This view has been voiced in recent years now by latte-swilling hipster celebrity activists like former governor of the Bank of Canada Mark Carney, the U.K.’s Sir Nicholas Stern, and principal secretary to the Prime Minister Gerald Butts (before he got his government job).

And yet, the passage of a resolution at the NDP convention merely to debate the Leap Manifesto at the riding level has pierced some underground reservoir of resentment, and toxic sentiment is spurting everywhere.

How do we make sense of this committed misrepresentation of the Leap? Easy: it’s just politics.

For the Alberta NDP government, associating with a document that opposes new fossil fuel infrastructure is clearly seen as political suicide. So it is asserting some distance. Fair enough.

But there are many others with an interest in mischaracterizing the document as a road map to NDP irrelevance. Hence the echo of this message from the front bench of the federal Liberal cabinet to the back bench of the Wildrose Party.

The Very Serious Pundits of Canada agree, and are vigorously stoking the tired narrative of heartless environmentalism threatening beleaguered resource workers.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Workers in carbon-intensive industries are at the very heart of the Leap Manifesto, which calls not only for retraining and resources for them, but also for the transition beyond fossil fuels to be driven by the democratic participation of the workers themselves.

Taken together, the policies in the Leap amount to what my father Stephen Lewis, in his NDP convention keynote address, called a “Marshall Plan for employment.” The Leap’s fiscal agenda would restore federal government spending capacity – now at a 60-year low – so we could embrace this historic moment with a truly unifying project for the country. We could build a cleaner and fairer economy, guided by the best science, and grounded in deep principles of social justice and no worker left behind.

Instead, we’re lapsing into a fossilized conversation that pits us against each other, morphing compassionate Canadians across regions into ugly caricatures painted with a malevolently broad brush.

The Leap Manifesto emerged from a process in which groups with different interests came together across historic divides to articulate a shared agenda. Despite the many competing constituencies in the room, we met on common ground: an ambitious future that we can start building together right now.

Canada could, and should, be doing the same


Middle-of-the-road Leap Manifesto hardly loony

By:   The Toronto Sun, Wed Apr 13 2016

For those following the travails of the New Democratic Party, the Leap Manifesto is topic of the day.

The short document, available on-line, can arouse fierce passions.

Alberta NDP Premier Rachel Notley has called its centrepiece recommendations naive and ill-informed.

Writing in the Star, former party official Robin Sears has dismissed it as the product of “loony leapers.”

In the media, it is usually described as radical. When delegates at the NDP’s Edmonton convention last weekend voted to debate the manifesto at the riding level, some fretted that the party was about to ride off into a Quixotic dead end.

In fact, the Leap Manifesto, which first surfaced last fall, is neither radical nor uniquely left-wing.

Its authors, including filmmaker Avi Lewis and writer Naomi Klein, present it as a non-partisan document that aims to influence all Canadian political parties.

They note that the manifesto has been endorsed by the Greens. They praise Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for moving on some of its recommendations and criticize him for being slow on others.

While Lewis and Klein both have close links to the New Democrats (Avi’s father is former Ontario NDP leader Stephen Lewis), neither has been active in the party.

Indeed, Avi Lewis didn’t join the NDP until he decided to go to Edmonton to try and sell his manifesto.

The document begins from the assumption that climate change poses a grave threat to the future of the world.

This might have been a radical position once. It is not now. Politicians, including those running Canada’s federal and provincial governments, accept it.

So do virtually all climate scientists.

In December, the world’s governments declared in Paris that unless fossil fuel emissions are reduced to zero by the latter half of this century, climate change will result in catastrophic damage — including flooding, famine and massive population displacement.

The authors of the Leap Manifesto agree. They argue that Canada’s carbon emissions can be reduced to zero by 2050.

How is this to be done? So far, Canada’s political leaders haven’t said. But the manifesto’s authors have some ideas. They take the perfectly logical position that if Canada is to do its bit, the country must stop spending billions on infrastructure designed to accommodate fossil fuel production.

In practical terms, that means no more oil and gas pipelines.

Is that radical? In Alberta, it certainly is. But other parts of the country are more amenable to anti-pipeline arguments.

Both the federal Liberal government and the federal NDP have been dodgy on whether they support an east-west oil pipeline — largely because such projects are unpopular in Ontario and Quebec.

Like Ottawa and virtually every provincial government, the manifesto calls for investment in clean energy projects. As Ontario has found with its windmill policy, this isn’t always a politically painless process. But except for the manifesto’s suggestion that, (as in Germany and Denmark) such projects be community-controlled, it is hardly novel.

In fact, the Trudeau Liberals have already promised to undertake many of the manifesto’s recommendations. They have said they will implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; they have pledged to invest in public transit and green infrastructure.

Like the federal NDP, the manifesto calls for a national child-care program. Like the federal NDP (sometimes) and both U.S. Democratic presidential candidates, the manifesto opposes trade deals that limit government’s ability to regulate in the public interest.

Like former Liberal prime minister Paul Martin, the authors favour imposing a financial transaction tax to help pay for all of this.

They also call for a carbon tax (like that levied by British Columbia’s right-of-centre government), higher taxes on the wealthy (like those imposed by the Trudeau Liberals) and higher corporate taxes (as suggested by the federal NDP).

Workers displaced by the move away from the carbon economy would be retrained.

In short, much of the Leap manifesto is not particularly new. What the authors have done is stitch together, largely from current practice, a sketchy but relatively coherent plan for immediate action against climate change.

If the NDP chooses not to embrace some form of this plan, the Trudeau Liberals probably will.

The Leap Manifesto is available at  https://leapmanifesto.org/en/the-leap-manifesto/