I Can Speak New Democrat, Advocate, 15/07/2016

This is the text of a post that will appear on Ontario NDP blogging venues soon, promoting my workshop series LEAPing Beyond. I've written in more detail about the first workshop in south Etobicoke and my plans for the entire series in earlier posts on this blog.
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When we New Democrats set out to discuss the LEAP Manifesto as our convention mandated, its content turned out to be less radical than appearances (and the mainstream media) suggests. As you can see in the NDP Renewal Guide, most of LEAP’s ideas were reflected in our established policy already.

Given this, what distinguishes LEAP is primarily its sense of urgency. But transforming our industry, economy, and society as fast as we can doesn’t mean we’ve done it as fast as possible. Such a radical change, rushed with the inspiration of the Manifesto’s call, would meet massive resistance and stumble more than it succeeded.

This July, I began the first of several workshops with Toronto-area activists about the values and limits of LEAP. LEAP’s broad scope holds it back from thinking through the grit of daily life and action. So I set out to do some public philosophy – discover our city’s values and create some new ones.

I learned three important lessons so far as we build an ecologically sustainable and prosperous new society for the 21st century.

1) Energy efficient housing is affordable housing. And massively increasing the energy efficiency of our homes is inseparable from building and protecting a regime of fairness and openness in real estate development all over Canada. Greed must not be the motivator of new housing, or else the only new homes will be mini-mansions.

2) Not only must we build new public transit infrastructure in and between all our cities, we must properly fund it and overcome the snobbery that looks down its nose at transit. There is no war between transit and the car – a city with an efficient and effective public transit system makes more room for those who choose to drive because people who’d rather not take a car become a bus or train driver’s passengers.

3) Leave our tired old oppositions behind! The first one we thought of was car vs transit. Then we thought of one all New Democrats know – principle vs power. Another one we know from the Harper years is environment vs economy.

All these oppositions are false. We don’t have to choose between them. Instead, embrace the imperative to shatter all these binaries as the lies and cultural illusions they are. They’re the fences that divide us. Rip their stakes from the ground and let’s build a new house for all people together!

I’ll explore all these ideas and more as my workshop series continues. Our next venue will be Christie Pits, at a date to be determined in August.

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