BC NDP Convention: Pushed hard by delegates inside the hall and loud demonstrations Outside
By Gary Porter - 745 delegates from across BC met in Victoria to consider policy and elect a leadership as we approach 2024 and a Provincial election. The entire 56 NDP MLAs were in attendance for all, or part of the convention. They got an earful.
They heard about the desperate effort to find affordable homes, the renovictions, the high rents. They heard about the inability to find a family doctor, the high price of gas to get to work , painful decisions to buy lower quality food just to feed the kids, homes lost to massive fires and the cattle, hogs and pets lost to terrifying floods. A doctor stood in a white coat and described children with asthma unable to breathe because of forest fire smoke. Delegates from remote parts of BC explained there was no public transportation at all to where they lived and often 250 miles, or more, to the nearest medical clinic. All this after 6 years of NDP government in Victoria.
The NDP government in BC, is, of course a bourgeois government. It is part of the capitalist state, accepting entirely the capitalist framework and that legal system. When it is eventually replaced by a “normal” capitalist party, it will turn over the capitalist state appartus, legal codes, courts, police etc completely intact so that Kevin Falcon, or his ilk can begin immediately to undo NDP reforms. But the NDP is a different kind of bourgeois government, because its election re-election rests on a party of the working class. This makes an NDP government somewhat more open to pressure from the working class
The last resolution passed, a resolution on Gaza, garnered the greatest tumult on the convention floor and repeated chants of “Cease Fire Now”.
The resolution urged the Canadian government to call for an immediate ceasefire in the fight between Hamas and Israel.
The emergency resolution, added late to the agenda, called the attacks by Hamas on Oct. 7 “indefensible” and committed the BC NDP to “condemn the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians, caused by both Hamas terrorist attacks and Israeli military strikes.”
Of course the attack by Hamas was not a terrorist attack . It was a legitimate military attack on their oppressors, on the illegal occupiers of their land supported by International law. To the extent that unarmed civilians were killed both by Hamas and the Israeli forces, those are war crimes
It called for the release of hostages taken by Hamas, for the Canadian government to advocate for urgent access for humanitarian aid in Gaza and for the B.C. government to welcome refugees from the region to the province. It did not call for the release of thousands of Palestinians imprisoned by Israeli forces, some as young as 12, held for years without charges and in violation of international law.
There is no equality between the Israelis and Palestinians.
The Israelis are well financed well armed invaders and occupiers of Palestine, supported by western imperialism and treating Palestinians as subhuman, denying them food, water, energy, medical care, or any rights whatever. The Israelis bomb their homes, their schools, their hospitals at will and repeatedly. The resolution echoed language from the United Nations calling the situation in Gaza a “humanitarian catastrophe” and said “innocent Israelis and Palestinians caught in the fight between Hamas and Israel have a right to peace and security.”
On a day when protesters outside the Victoria convention centre called for a ceasefire, the motion attracted long lineups of speakers, most of whom did not get a chance to speak, and used the entire 22 minutes set aside for emergency resolutions.
The resolutions committee drafted the resolution reflecting the refusal of the leadership to identify Israel is the oppressor and the Palestinians as the oppressed, to point out that apartheid Israel since the day Israel was created in 1948 has treated the Palestinian people like cattle in their own land. For 75 years the illegal seizures of land , the beatings, the torturing, the killing of Palestinians have continued as a violent drumbeat, day after day at the hands of the vicious and racist Israeli state. Resistance by the Palestinians is inevitable, entirely justified and for those with any sense of justice must be fully supported. NDP premier David Eby, had so far refused even to call for a Ceasefire, reflecting the entrenched pro Zionist rot in the BC NDP at the top, including BC NDP MP Randall Garrison and BC NDP cabinet ministers Selina Robinson and Murray Rankin. But rank and file delegates were delighting to get a chance to declare their support for cease fire with hundreds wanting to go further. The resolution passed with only 1 misguided vote against.
On energy, a tepid resolution titled “Accelerating Climate Action” included a clause calling for the licensing of new fracking wells to include an emissions test. The delegates overwhelmingly referred the resolution back to the resolutions committee demanding that this clause be amended to state that no new fracking licenses would be issued.
A resolution titled “Condemning Rising Transphobic and Homophobic Hate, contained a clause that, “the BC NDP will call on law enforcement agencies across the province to work with all British Columbians to stop these hate crimes”. Several powerful queer speakers recoiled at this clause, telling delegates that they did not trust the police, that they had been attacked right in front of police on several occasions and police did nothing and that police are definitely a source of anti queer hate, not part of the solution. This clause was referred back to be deleted. The resolutions committee did bring the resolution back with the offending clause deleted and the resolution passed.
A strong resolution was passed urging the NDP government to rapidly accelerate the full implementation of the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted unanimously by the BC legislature on Nov 28th, 2019, but with little done to bring the 5000 acts of the legislature into conformance over the past 4 years.
A resolution was overwhelmingly adopted calling for the rapid development of a free public transportation system connecting all parts of the province, especially the rural, low income and marginalized ones to reduce carbon, increase economic opportunity and for personal reasons such as medical care, and that the government emphasize new forms of transport especially high speed rail.
A resolution on housing was overwhelmingly adopted supporting public housing. Drafted by the BC Socialist Caucus and submitted by 5 electoral districts and SCOEE, it stated:
Because there is a chronic shortage of affordable housing in BC,
Because all market based efforts to subsidize or incentivize developers and landlords have solved nothing and have only made homes an asset for speculation,
The BC NDP will call on the provincial government to support the building of sufficient, publicly owned, high quality, environmentally sustainable, union built housing in livable, walkable communities available in an affordable, rent geared to income basis.
This resolution was ranked by the resolutions committee as number 3 in its category, indicating the committee intended for it to pass. It turns out that the Eby government is taking two initiatives in this direction. First, they are setting aside a billion dollars to buy rental properties for sale, that would almost certainly be purchased by a renovictor for demolition and rebuilding as unaffordable condos. Secondly, the government is assembling land near transport hubs to build public rental housing, both great steps.
The massive influx of environmentalists into the Party in support of Leadership candidate Anjali Appadurai, appear to have left after her summary exclusion by party brass, terrified she would win. These new members had no understanding of the NDP as the only labour based party in North America and currently, at least, well worth the time to advance socialist ideas among its worker base. As a result Eby in a vote of confidence garnered 93.2% of the delegate votes.
During the convention, 35 members of the Socialist Caucus, participated in debates, met delegates across the province gathered 3 dozen new names and distributed 250 copies of Socialist Action’s new journal, Red Review and 50 copies of socialist caucus magazine, Turn Left. Four Socialist Caucus candidates sought elected posts. Gary Porter, running for Treasurer was excluded owing to gender equity rules and none of the other 3 were elected. This was our very first slate and we learned a great deal. Most socialist caucus members participated outside the convention hall in both demonstrations aimed at delegates, STOP FRACKING and CEASE FIRE NOW. This was by far the biggest presence of an organized socialist left in decades in the BC NDP. To quote the terminator, we’ll be back.
Image: Delegates vote as they attend the B.C. NDP convention. Eby received a show of his support from New Democrats at the convention. (Chad Hipolito/The Canadian Press) Source