COVID-19 is our final wake-up call. Canada, and the world, have been living on borrowed time. We must stop what we have been doing to nature and ourselves. We must make a new beginning.
We must move rapidly towards a just and green economy, reorienting our society away from the meaningless consumption of more and more and towards social justice, ecological sustainability and social, cultural and material wellbeing.
We lay out our economic blueprint here. It addresses in equal measure the economic ills we face and the ecological emergency we are in. Further details on the latter are in ‘Responding to the Ecological Emergency.’
Canada’s economy has failed the land, its peoples, and the world.
Our economy is destroying the foundation of our existence. It despoils the land and the waters, poisons the air, and devastates the natural world. It has created a society riddled with poverty, injustice, inequality, gender discrimination and racism.
Defending, protecting, and nurturing the land and its beings cannot be separated from the creating a truly human society and economy. The land cries for a people free of greed and want, united by common ideals of justice, equality and respect. However, no nation will survive unless committed, in word and deed, to its land, the waters upon it, the air above it, and all that lives on or in them and to cooperative relations with other similarly committed nations.
Canada’s economy has substituted profit for progress
Canada’s economy is organized to pillage nature and to feed the world’s financiers. It destroys the environment because financial gain drives it. In 2015, it exported $181 billion worth of minerals – twenty times what its people consumed at home – and $56 billion in products of the land – twice what its people consumed at home. Its economy, originating in colonial settlement, is addicted to exploiting land expropriated from Indigenous peoples.
At home, Canada’s economy bestrides a rift between its original peoples and its settlers. Its corporations despoil land at home and abroad. They alienate Canadians’ natural friends – from the Indigenous peoples on whose territories Canada stands, to the colonized peoples of the world. The Toronto Stock Exchange is the mining world’s favourite stock market because it is one of the world’s least regulated. It exports settler habits of unaccountable exploitation to the rest of the world.
Most of the fabulous wealth this economy produces goes to a privileged few, leaving Canada unable to afford decent incomes and social services for the many. Most Canadians live a paycheck or two from poverty. As for social services, amid the real-world stress test that is the pandemic, for instance, our health care system has been shamed by those of far poorer countries able to bring the pandemic under control merely by valuing care over profit.
In recent decades, as governments have yielded more to corporate power, our public services and public sphere have deteriorated, and the social fabric has frayed, further.
The Harper government destroyed the agricultural marketing boards that once protected small farmers and consumers from the rapacious forces of world commodity markets. Neither the Liberals nor the NDP have fought to reinstate them.
We will harness Canada’s economy. We will cultivate human capacity, caring, creativity, and understanding. We will respect Indigenous sovereignty and create a human society that respects and defends the land it lives on. We will reconstruct food and agricultural sovereignty for ourselves and for our allies.
If we succeed, Canada will be among the beacons of human progress, spearheading green development and research, managing a green, productive and egalitarian economy and creating a society and culture welcoming ideas and people from the world over.
Canada’s economy denies its children a future
The millions of young people mobilizing against climate change have sent an urgent message. Our duty to them demands that we invest in human cultural, social, and intellectual development – turning the economy from destroying nature to improving human material and cultural life sustainably. We are told the ‘costs’ are too great, but governments do not hesitate to raise vast sums to wage wars or bail out predatory banks. The money is there. The question is what we will use it for.
Building a new future calls for enormous, transformative investment – in green technology, in schools, colleges, universities, and research: in care, culture, and creativity. These will create many new skilled jobs and entail the revaluation of previously devalued work. They will end poverty, decrease inequality and make Canada a world hub for change and a model of care for all.
We will recognize the genocidal effects of Canada’s settler-colonial origins and ongoing colonial practices on Indigenous peoples. We will do everything in our power to repair the damage done and prevent further damage. Key to this will be ending Canada’s lifelong addiction to extraction and finance and transforming its economy for the wellbeing of all of Canada’s peoples.
We will also open a discussion about the good life and what suffices for it. This is critical if we are going to have an egalitarian and sustainable society. Do we need more and more mindless consumption of resource depleting goods and services financed through ruinous debt that enriches only a few? Does such consumption enhance the quality of our lives? How much is enough? Do we not need more intellectual, physical and cultural development? To provide opportunities for this to all? To create new forms of art, sport and new social bonds?
Another Canada is possible, one of just green wellbeing.
GDP cannot capture Canada’s social and ecological wellbeing
With economic policy subordinated to the narrow measure of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), government merely serves the corporate destruction of nature and humanity by costing them in dollars.
We will introduce, and plan for, three critical green and social indicators:
- the resource footprint of the Canadian economy which we will reduce by redesigning it for sustainability;
- inequality, which we will reduce by narrowing the gap between richest and poorest to a maximum of 10:1; and
- the quality of human life which we will enhance by providing access to adequate incomes, housing, care, education and creative self-development.
We will set resource footprint and inequality reduction and quality of life enhancement targets for enterprises, government agencies, and the general public, open them up to wide public consultation, and set in place governing mechanisms guaranteeing public access and oversight, so that Canadians can work together to achieve them.
Corporate finance has failed the Canadian economy
Canadians have mountains of debts. While they cripple the lives of the many, they constitute the assets of Canadian and international financial institutions and high net worth individuals, lining their pockets and, often parked in tax havens, depriving Canadian governments of significant revenues. This combination of the misery of the many and the obscene privileges of the few is the product of a credit system that fails to channel investment where it is needed – into green and socially useful productive investment, transformative technology, human development, and defending the environment – and directs it towards financial extortion and speculation.
We will establish a banking system that serves the people and the environment.
Canada’s political parties have failed Canadians and the environment
The Liberal government has failed to deliver on its modest promises; climate-change emissions are hardly lower than in 2013 and fell short of our unambitious commitments to the United Nations by 44 million tons. The Conservatives, meanwhile, resist even these modest reductions. The NDP, whilst campaigning on a laudable promise to protect air, land, and water, has put almost no concrete measures before parliament to achieve this.
We will develop and fight for an eco-socialist programme and unite Canadian progressives around a radical and democratic transformation of economy and society and their relation to nature, eliminating debt, homelessness, unemployment, poverty, climate change and ecological destruction, and challenging corporate greed head-on.
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