Left Leanings

What's Left: The New Democratic Party in renewal edited by Z. David Berlin and Howard Aster (Mosaic Press), 216 pages,.

What’s Left: The New Democratic Party in renewal edited by Z. David Berlin and Howard Aster (Mosaic Press), 216 pages, $25 paper. Rating: NNNNN Rating: NNNNN

what’s left? the new democratic Party In Renewal packages essays by thinkers and activists associated with the NDP and Canada’s left.While the party’s old guard is well represented — 1970s backroom guy Gerald Caplan and party strategist Henry Milner, for example — we also hear from people far removed from the inner sanctum.

Pierre Ducasse presents a sweeping vision of how worker co-ops and credit unions can scale the heights of the national economy. David Langille celebrates the record of the Brazilian Workers party and Porto Alegre’s municipal administration, which have received praise from both the World Bank and its most acerbic critics in the anti-globalization movement.

There is real and significant debate in What’s Left.

Former NDP leader Ed Broadbent takes aim at the founding (July 26, 2001) manifesto of the New Party Initiative (NPI) on the grounds that it ignores the positive legacy of thousands of party activists in the international social democratic movement. He also clashes with NPI author Svend Robinson over his suggestion that the market is “a mad dog that should be shot,” not “kept on a leash.”

Robinson and fellow NPI author Jim Stanford have their own say, though they avoid discussion of serious divisions between the environmental and trade union movements.

Also noteworthy are a list of the achievements of NDP provincial governments that are poorly reported in the media, such as Manitoba’s banning of for-profit hospitals, and Michael Valpy’s candid insider’s view of big-business media.

Ontario’s NDP research director, Chris Watson, fantasizes about the year 2030, when former Toronto mayor Jack Layton Jr. has been appointed CEO of Ontario Wind Farm Inc., which has, according to critics, achieved almost a virtual monopoly on new electricity generation in the province.

Such musings offer proof that the party has learned to dream again. Speaking as a long-time NDP member and environmental activist, I’d say that’s a good sign.JOHN BACHER

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