The intervention of working people in the political process can make a
difference, a newly-elected member of the Canadian Parliament told UE convention
Libby Davies, a member of the New Democratic Party, represents
Vancouver on Canadas 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
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
"There is no question that in Canada, since its inception, the NDP is
labors voice. The NDP brings labors 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,
"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. "Thats what weve done since our
inception, and thats 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 labors voice."
And to be political, she added. "Its 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."