The Ontario NDP is addicted to sucking.
That’s the only conclusion that can be drawn when watching Marit Stiles and her staff figure out how to navigate the difficult Canadian political terrain of opposing genocide.
Canada’s political establishment is clear in their consensus: Israel has the right to drop more than 7000 bombs on 2.2 million people in just over a week; people who live in an area the size of Montreal and who Israel refuses to allow to leave. Justin Trudeau, Doug Ford, the legislature of Nova Scotia, François Legault–they all call this the right of Israel to defend itself.
And they are very serious about it too. Doug Ford is so afraid of Hamilton-Centre MPP Sarah Jama, so threatened by her power, that he moved a motion to censure her, robbing her of her right to speak and sit on committees in the legislature. The motion passed today.
But when the definition of self-defense is bombing Palestine off the map, at some point, people need to speak out.
Don’t expect those people to be in the NDP though. In fact, expect these people to be the first that the leadership of the NDP shivs.
Not only was Jama censured today by the Ontario legislature. She was also kicked out of the ONDP caucus. Here is why:
She has undertaken a number of unilateral actions that have undermined our collective work and broken the trust of her colleagues. Some of Ms. Jama’s actions have contributed to unsafe work environments for staff.
Jama, the youngest member of their caucus, has made the work environment unsafe. Jama, who has been attacked constantly by Doug Ford, who hasn’t been able to keep her office open for regular hours because of threats–she is the one attacking staff. I wonder who thought that this was the argument to go with, rather than just saying that they’ve chosen the side of the occupier, the oppressor, the literal bomber.
That, of course, doesn’t sound as good as the idea that a Black woman has made the work environment unsafe for some people (who? White men? White women? No one is believing this, folks).
We could argue whether or not the ONDP is driven by cowardice or committed Zionism but what is clear to this: the party will not survive this decision.
Jama was elected under the banner of the ONDP. Her opinions on Palestine have never been hidden and indeed, formed part of the arguments in favour of voting for her. By welcoming her into the party, they benefited from her election and now, are throwing her under the bus. The party has demonstrated that even when it can win, and has won, they are still committed to losing.
This past weekend, millions of people worldwide took to the streets to demand an end to the occupation of Gaza. The death toll is north of 4600 people, half of whom are children, and the worst night of bombardment since the current campaign waged by Israel happened last night.
There is urgency here. With the nations who have the power to intervene and get Israel to stop dropping bombs announcing the total support for Israel’s crimes (couched in the language of “the right to self-defense–as if babies threaten the existence of Israel), the short-term future seems very, very bleak for the people of Gaza.
At the heart of it all is Israel’s illegal and unjustifiable siege of Gaza. And yet, as I write such simple and straight-foward words, there is a campaign in Canada to silence everyone who says what I have just said.
Now, it’s one thing when that campaign is being coordinated by someone like Brian Lilley–a man who knows very well who butters his bread and who has used his column to call on Canada’s law firms to not hire students from Toronto Metropolitan University who had the audacity to use their free speech to support Palestine–but it’s another entirely to watch the dregs of social democracy in Canada throw their own bombs directly at their own feet.
No thinking person in Canada is watching what’s happening in Gaza and saying to themselves: what this situation really needs is for Israel to have even more steadfast support. No thinking person sees Israel’s retaliation for Hamas’ attacks and says–this is proportional. This is self-defense.
No, the average person is horrified by what is happening. And the average person needs to see something break the political consensus that Israel can do no wrong. The average person hasn’t transcended bourgeois politics yet; they need someone they can feel good about supporting politically. And yet, despite the place in politics that they occupy, the ONDP clamors to become a pale version of the Liberals and then even then, fails spectacularly.
The ONDP is addicted to losing. It’s been addicted to losing for ages. And what’s even more clear is that its addiction to losing has made it impossible for the party to do the bare minimum of what is needed from them. And time and patience is wearing out. The only question is will this precipitate a crisis within the NDP? Or will the party just continue along the path of irrelevance until one day, we don’t even notice they’re gone.