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63rd National
UE Convention

Working People Can Change Politics

Libby Davies
NDP/MP Canada

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Libby Davies


The intervention of working people in the political process can make a difference, a newly-elected member of the Canadian Parliament told UE convention delegates.

Libby Davies, a member of the New Democratic Party, represents Vancouver on Canada’s west-coast in the House of Commons. She is one of 21 members of the federal NDP caucus in Parliament; many, like her, are newly elected and direct from labor’s ranks.

In electing Davies, voters in the most blighted and poverty-stricken district in Canada rejected a well-connected incumbent member of the ruling Liberal Party, deciding they would be better served by an activist aligned with labor and community struggles.

"There is no question that in Canada, since its inception, the NDP is labor’s voice. The NDP brings labor’s agenda to the parliamentary process," Davies told the convention. That said, unions maintain their own independent voices, accountability to members and sense of mission while engaged in partnership with the NDP, she explained.

"We brought the message that a progressive political party allied with labor was a party that could shape the political agenda and could force accountability, could force social change, political change on the political parties that were in power," Davies said. "That’s what we’ve done since our inception, and that’s what we continue to do in the House of Commons."

The NDP members of Parliament successfully demanded public disclosure of the notorious Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI), a secret treaty that would turn vast powers over to multinational corporations. The labor movement, including the NDP, and citizens groups have derailed MAI in Canada, she reported.

Davies proposed that "our job is to reclaim labor’s voice." And to be political, she added. "It’s only the corrupt politicians and the system they serve who have made us believe that politics is a dirty word and that there is no way out," the new Member of Parliament suggested.

"There has never been a more important time for us as working people to understand and influence the political agenda," Davies declared.

Globally, the role of government itself is being redefined to serve the market place, rather than the public interest, she said. With globalization, corporate concentration, deregulation, transfer of wealth from working people to a small elite and an assault on the rights of working people, we have no choice but to become involved in the political process, she stressed.

"Our job more than ever is to build and strengthen a participatory democracy, in our communities and workplaces," Davies said. That means engaging in the political process, "to shape and influence the political agenda in favor of working people, poor people, people of color and small business."

The consequence of failing to become involved is greater corporate control over every aspect of our lives, with an increased sense of powerlessness, leaving working people "isolated and unable to resist and fight back."

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