Canada’s pretend socialists

By blocking a popular resolution on Palestine, Canada’s NDP yet again proved that it is the party of pretend socialists.

NDP Singh Reuters
For Canada's pretend socialist party, its supposed "values" are all too malleable and, as such, human rights for Palestinians appear to be an optional extra, writes Mitrovica [Reuters]

The New Democratic Party (NDP) is Canada’s pretend socialist party. 

The pretend socialists got together at their biennial convention in Ottawa recently to chart policy for the upcoming federal election when, once again, the party vows not to utter the word socialist.

The pretend socialists are so afraid of being called socialists that they voted – 960 to 188 – to erase “socialist” from the party’s constitution in 2013.

The pretend socialists say they abandoned the word to try to “modernise” the party so it could better “resonate” with Canadians. Translation: Socialism is for old farts and losers.

So, it’s not surprising that Canada’s pretend socialist party’s policy towards Israel and Palestine remains, in effect, a facsimile of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s rather than, let’s say, British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s. 

Of course, Corbyn is a real socialist, not a pretend one. The real socialist got a loud and long standing ovation after he urged delegates at the Labour Party Conference last September to “give real support to end the oppression of the Palestinian people” and Israel’s “50-year occupation and illegal settlement expansion”. 


Corbyn prefaced his remarks by insisting that they reflect the Labour Party’s socialist “values”. “We must put our values at the heart of our foreign policy. Democracy and human rights are not an optional extra to be deployed selectively,” the real socialist said.

Alas, for Canada’s pretend socialist party, its supposed “values” are all too malleable and, as such, human rights for Palestinians appear to be an optional extra and are indeed deployed selectively. 

How else to explain the cynical, contrived, and ultimately successful gambit by Canada’s pretend socialist party to scuttle a valiant attempt by mostly young, but apparently not “modern” enough NDP members, to put forward a resolution calling for the end of Israel’s illegal occupation and settlements, as well as the blockade of Gaza, while enshrining explicit support for “economic pressure to end the occupation” into the party’s constitution.

The pretend socialists who run Canada’s pretend socialist party employed every procedural gimmick in their censorious playbook to make sure that resolution didn’t make it onto the convention floor during consideration of the NDP’s foreign policy agenda, let alone into the constitution which, remember, bans the word “socialist”.

Former and current Members of Parliament from the pretend socialist party, including the NDP’s foreign affairs critic, and their staffers, reportedly “jammed” the convention floor to make sure the pro-Palestinian resolution, and any attempts to bolster it, died before they were born and a watered-down, so-called “balanced” resolution on Palestine and Israel prevailed.

Mr Singh better summon a true, tangible measure of love and courage for Palestinians soon or he'll face the same ignominious fate as his predecessor who forgot that real socialists can always spot a pretend one.


The same powerful, exclusive band of pretend socialists pulled the same technical stunt at the NDP’s convention in Vancouver in 2011 to bury a resolution supporting the Canadian Boat to Gaza.

The leaders of Canada’s pretend socialist party with its pretend affinity for openness, transparency and democracy, set aside less than an hour for “debate” on the competing resolutions and assured the outcome by, in part, stacking the microphones on the convention floor.

As a result, the first 15 minutes of the “debate” featured several frustrated NDP members angrily complaining the proceedings had been rigged, while other NDP members angrily denounced their brothers and sisters for standing and carrying signs demanding Israel release Palestinian teenager, Ahed Tamimi, from custody, rather than Israel’s jailing and shooting of scores of Palestinian children. 

One oh so fortunate delegate, however, was given carte blanche for several minutes to back the more “balanced” resolution that, she claimed, “talks about both sides’ responsibilities and rights” and that would allow NDP leader Jagmeet Singh “to find common cause with our friends and allies in Israel and Palestine”.

After another futile round of wrangling over rules, a vote was promptly taken and, you guessed it, the “balanced” resolution won the carefully engineered day.

Then, and only then, did Canada’s pretend socialist party allow a solitary NDP member – who is Jewish – to oppose the just approved “balanced” resolution.

In his speech, the delegate excoriated the NDP for adopting a resolution that “does nothing to address the two-tiered legal system that sees almost 700 Palestinian children languish behind bars in Israeli prisons each year. It does nothing to substantially address Israel’s human rights violations or its ongoing siege on Gaza. It offers mere platitudes rather than much-needed action.”

Meanwhile, a smattering of other NDP members shouted: “Shame.”

It was a shameful, but not unexpected, exhibition by Canada’s party of pretend socialists who feign respect for international law and human rights, as long as they don’t apply to Palestinians.   

Hyperbole? I don’t think so. The former leader of the party, Thomas Mulcair, did not say a word publicly while the Israeli military invaded Gaza and killed and maimed thousands of Palestinians, including more than 500 children during what amounted to Israel’s turkey shoot – by land, sea and air – of a besieged people for week after week in 2014. 

At the inhumane time, Mulcair hid behind a press release, where he affixed blame for the relentless “horror” on “Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants,” without so much as a syllable of condemnation for Israel’s indiscriminate and deadly volley after indiscriminate, deadly volley. He also suggested “de-escalation” might be useful. How nice. 

That is Canada’s pretend socialists’ “balanced approach” towards Palestine and Israel on pathetic, humiliating display.

Mulcair wasn’t the leader of Canada’s pretend socialists much longer after that because his “balanced approach” was largely identical to Trudeau’s “balanced approach” which is a euphemism for: Israel can do anything, at any time, by any means, to imprison and kill Palestinians and occupy their land.   

Canada’s pretend socialists can rationalise and obfuscate until their party’s signature orange colours turn blue, but “balanced approach” is also a polite euphemism for complicity.      

In an odd, rambling 40-minute speech, Mr Love and Courage, Jagmeet Singh, tried, haltingly and rhetorically, to re-affirm his socialist credentials. Not once did he call for the end of the oppression of Palestinians. Not once did he call for the end to the brutal, illegal occupation of Palestinian land. Not once did he call for the end to the remorseless siege of Gaza. Not once did he call for the use of economic or diplomatic sanctions to censor Israel for its ingrained violations of international law and human rights. And not once did he mention the words Palestine or Palestinians. 

Mr Singh better summon a true, tangible measure of love and courage for Palestinians soon or he’ll face the same ignominious fate as his predecessor who forgot that real socialists can always spot a pretend one.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.