Tom Parkin for Parkdale-High Park

Fundamental change — and a green new deal

The SNC-Lavalin scandal exactly why we need fundamental change


corporations can lobby their way to special legislation, lobby their way to reduce



Almost 90 years ago, developed economies fell into a deep rut. In Canada, the Conservative government of R.B. Bennett tried to use orthodox economy thinking — and even trade protectionism — to bolster jobs and wages. It didn’t work.

Read more: Workers need to be at the centre of a Green New Deal for the Broadbent Institute

In 1934, the Canadian Cooperative Federation — the forerunner of today’s New Democratic Party — exploded onto the politic scene, building a new coalition of labour activists, farmer activists and social justice activists. They demanded crop insurance, medical for all, public housing construction and the right of collective bargaining. They won electoral success and by 1935 Prime Minister Bennett — in desperation and with an election on the horizon — pulled a policy u-turn and started advocating for a “New Deal for Canada.”

Bennett was wiped out in the 1935 election and Liberal William Lyon Mackenzie King became Prime Minister, continuing until 1948. The CCF were able to maintain pressure for a New Deal for Canadians. In 1941 the CCF became the official opposition in British Columbia, pushing the Liberals and Conservatives into a coalition. In Ontario the CCF became official opposition in 1943. And in Saskatchewan, CCF leader Tommy Douglas won a majority government in 1944. And through those years, with pressure from the CCF coalition, the King government slowly implemented a New Deal.

Today we are again stuck in a rut. But the challenges today are different– austerity, inequality and environmental destruction. A Green New Deal is the hope of bringing together a coalition of environmentalists, workers and social justice activists to give the  much-needed reset to today’s rules of economy.



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