The NDP's proposal to modify the preamble to its constitution is raising the usual concern among diehard supporters that Canada's democratic socialist party is moving away from its roots. But an examination of the strident anti-capitalist dogma in the preamble should convince any sensible person that the sooner it is changed, the better.
These are the two basic principles that would disappear from the preamble if a proposal to that effect, which is supported by NDP leader Thomas Mulcair, were accepted by party members at a convention in Montreal this month:
"The production and distribution of goods and services shall be directed to meeting the social and individual needs of people within a sustainable environment and economy and not to the making of profit;
"To modify and control the operations of the monopolistic productive and distributive organizations through economic and social planning. Towards these ends and where necessary the extension of the principle of social ownership;"
Both these clauses are true to the tenets of socialism, and are therefore at direct odds with capitalism, in which the means of production and distribution of goods and services are based on private ownership, and the making of a profit is seen as the best way to ensure economic growth. We have had at least a century to test the outcomes of each operating system, and the inescapable conclusion is that capitalism, while not perfect, is the one that is best suited to creating prosperity, equality and progress, while socialism is the one best suited to creating the Soviet Union, Cuba and Venezuela.
That a modern Canadian political party is still endorsing in a word-for-word fashion the worst excesses of socialism's failed attempts to manage economies has to come as a shock to anyone who's never read the NDP constitution. It is a fair gamble to say that the average left-leaning unionized auto-plant worker or oil-sands labourer is not aware that the official Opposition is obliged by its constitution to support the government takeover of his or her workplace, and to eliminate the profit motive that created the workplace in the first place.
Capitalism needs its critics. There is a place in Canada for a left-leaning party that draws its support from unions, and which believes, as part of the NDP's proposed new preamble puts it, that "social justice, equality, and environmental sustainability are vital to achieving a strong, united and prosperous Canada for all." But the NDP's roots, as defined by its current constitution, lie in poisoned ground, and should be abandoned at all costs.