Last night the Globe and Mail newspaper held a debate with leaders of only three of Canada’s registered political parties — Stephen Harper of the Conservative Party, Thomas Mulcair of the NDP and Justin Trudeau of the Liberal Party. The debate, called “Our Economy. Our Future,” focused on what the Globe called “the most critical ballot-box issue.” However, instead of discussing the economy and how to change its direction so that it is able to meet the needs of the people, the Globe said it will “probe the economic platforms of the three official parties, assessing their plans on everything from energy and housing to taxation and jobs.”
The debate was moderated by the Globe’s editor-in-chief, David Walmsley, with its political reporter Jane Taber leading the post-debate panel of pundits. The format of questions, answers and discussion was not even announced in advance. What we do know, however, is that they did not address the problems of the economy nor any of the people’s concerns. This raises the question, what are these debates for?
Our economy cannot be left to chance
News commentary from Renewal Update
The first thing that Canadians can expect in the Globe and Mail debate on the economy taking place tonight is that no one will say what the economy is or what it is made up of. It will go unmentioned that Canadian workers and the natural environment produce all the wealth on which their livelihoods and the livelihoods of the rich depend, and that working people have rights. They will not say that the economy is an interrelated system of social production upon which human beings depend and which requires conscious acts of participation and finding out to deal with the severe problems it is facing.
Without starting from the basic facts of the economy, recognizing them and drawing warranted conclusions the economy is left to chance. Leaving the economy to chance means accepting unemployment, the destruction of manufacturing and whole industries and livelihoods and first and foremost accepting that human beings can have no control over life outside of deciding between tax margins on the rich or the monopoly interests which have seized control of economic life.
The demands of working people across the country who are every day grappling with economic insecurity and attacks on their livelihood can be expressed very clearly. The economy must uphold public right, not monopoly right. Sovereign decision-making over the economy can be restored by withdrawing from all neo-liberal free trade deals that put Canada’s human and natural resources at the disposal of the global monopolies. International trade and movement of social wealth must be based on mutual benefit and development to serve the public interest not the narrow private interests of the monopolies.
Manufacturing is a priority using natural resources to meet the people’s needs and to build a self-reliant economy, not for rip and ship and predatory sell-out without consideration of the social and natural consequences.
The people want an end to the privatization and sell-off of public assets, an end to paying the rich and, instead, to increase funding for social programs and public services to guarantee the rights of all to employment, childcare and recreation, education, health care, seniors’ care and pensions.
The working people demand empowerment to exercise control over the economy, to give it a new pro-social direction and find solutions to its problems, with the power to implement their decisions and move it forward.