Why do Social Democrats do what they do?

August 14, 2009

Greetings from the YCL-LJC du Canada to Young New Democrats in Convention , August 13, 2009

Dear New Democratic Youth of Canada Executive,

Greetings from the Young Communist Leauge – Ligue de la jeunesse communiste du Canada, on the occasion of your HFX09 YOUTH, the NDP Federal Youth convention starting today!

We write to you in the spirit of cooperation and dialogue. In our view, your convention comes at a critical time for the youth and student movement across Canada. Our world’s environment is seriously threatened, our generation is undergoing the most intense and dangerous economic crisis we’ve ever seen, and an aggressively pro-big business government – the Harper Conservatives – is in power.

Tens of thousands of young people are unemployed. Many haven’t found a job this summer. Fewer still will obtain well-paying, meaningful, and safe full-time work. In Toronto, youth unemployment is pushing 20 per cent. Aboriginal youth, young women, youth of colour (especially Afro-Canadian youth) and non-status youth are severely hit. Employment Insurance denies most young applicants, including farm-worker youth, and is meagre at best.

In this crisis, have any of the municipal, provincial and federal governments moved to close the wage gap between women and men, massively build affordable housing, legislate a minimum wage above poverty, or make car insurance and public transit more accessible to youth? Student debt hit $13 billion this January. With the exception of Newfoundland, most provinces are increasing tuition and ancillary fees, while commercializing education. (Sadly that includes Gary Doer’s Manitoba, and Darrell Dexter’s provincial platform astoundingly called for tax cuts to students, not reduced tuition).

We are interested in your reflections; our experience is that the young workers and students across Canada genuinely resent being forced to pay for a crisis that we didn’t create – a crisis caused by capitalism. The also youth disagree with the billions of dollars wasted on the imperialist war in Afghanistan, and even the general direction of our largely US-written foreign policy (currently tacitly supporting the illegal Honduran coup).

For our part, we stand with all those who envision a new future without hunger, misery, ignorance, exploitation and suffering, without capitalism and imperialism. We know that we are not alone. Our organization’s perspective is for a socialist Canada, where the people own the economy and society is based on ecology and human need, not corporate greed. For us, this goal is urgently linked with the efforts of young people, with the labour and all people’s movements, to strive for a much better deal – not just in the Parliament but especially on the streets, in the schools, in workplaces. We think you would agree that way forward includes struggle and protests, requiring bold and energetic unity.

The YCL has great respect for the countless honest, good-hearted NDY’ers who are outstanding activists. Although occasionally – like the battle to de-federate Simon Fraser University from the Canadian Federation of Students – we find young NDPers are sadly on both sides of the fight, the big picture of the NDP youth is an organization with many progressive militants working hard in the fight-back as individuals. It is our hope that the New Democratic Youth will deepen its participation as an organization in the many campaigns of English-speaking Canadian, Québécois, Aboriginal and Acadian youth.

We know many others agree that the movement would be made stronger if, with all the radical and spirited enthusiasm that burns within youth, the NDY consciously brought its membership into campaigns. Could the NDY dauntlessly and publicly support progressive causes like the immediate call for the restoration of democratically elected Honduran President Zelaya, or actions like the Troops Out of Afghanistan Now, against military recruitment, solidarity with Palestine and Haiti, to raise the minimum wage above the poverty line, expand and transform EI, for universal, public, quality childcare, or to immediately reduce and then eliminate tuition fees, and close the scandalous gap in Aboriginal education funding? This is not the place for a complete list of the youth struggles, but what possibilities exist for the NDY consciously helping movements, as an organization, to mobilize in unions and on campus?

The call for united action is all the more imperative give the renewed gross and anti-democratic attempts at manipulating student politics engendered by the Conservative Party youth.

Our local clubs are open to working with any youth organization, including the NDY, towards a progressive agenda. We warmly welcome any discussions, debate and joint action that builds a broader, more powerful youth and student movement. These debates and actions are not sufficiently comprehensive and pan-Canadian, but they are vigorous and on-going among the English-speaking Canadian, Québécois, Aboriginal and Acadian youth. In the face of such serious threats to our generation, to take a different approach than unity and struggle, we think, would be disastrous for the youth.

Again, on behalf of the Central Executive Committee of the Young Communist League of Canada – Ligue de la jeunesse communiste du Canada, we wish your delegates and new executive best luck for a successful convention that is militant, dynamic, and committed to building a Canada of peace, democracy, ecology, employment, and full sovereignty – and a better world.

Yours in friendship and struggle,


Johan Boyden
General Secretary, YCL-LJC

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