Or at least a certain corner of Canadian politics. For some definitions of "blow up."
For those not followong Canadian politics, our more-or-less socialist party, The New Democratic Party, recently held a policy convention where they also held a leadership review vote. The current leader, Tom Mulcair, lost the vote and as a result the NDP will be spending the next two years or so looking for a new leader.
What's significant from our point of view here is why he lost the vote. While the results of the last Federal election certainly played a role, the more proximate cause was a battle of sorts between the pragmatists and the idealists within the party. Inspired by Bernie Sanders and his run at the Democratic nomination in the current round of presidential elections in the US, the idealists are looking for a firmer and more pronounced progressive platform compared to the more centrist platform in the last couple of election cycles.
To complicate matters, pigs flew and hell froze over last year and the current government of the Province of Alberta (i.e. the most conservative province, both large-C and small-c) is NDP. The premier of oil-sands-dependent Alberta is Rachel Notley and from her point of view, the Federal NDP embracing the anti-fossil Fuel Leap Manifesto makes it a lot harder for her and her government to maneuver in the long and medium term and hopefully shift Alberta's economy away from such radical dependence on oil and gas production.
Which brings us to The Leap Manifesto itself. Brainchild of activists Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis, it's a rather breathtaking document calling for a complete retooling of the Canadian economy. You can see the text below. It's quite breathtaking in the way it call for a complete do-over. Though when you look at it closely and get past the "demands" and manifestoiness of it all, its basically a fairly modest program for just doing what needs to be done to save the planet.
Personally, I'm still pondering exactly what I think of the situation. While it's obvious at a certain level that without the kind of action that the Manifesto recommends, we are doomed to suffer the consequences of a radically warming planet. We need to leave an awful lot of the oil that is currently in the ground right there where it belongs. On the other hand, it's also pretty obvious that actually getting climate agreements signed and concrete action taken isn't as easy as publishing a manifesto. Joining the worlds of idealistic activism with cold-hearted political calculation is never easy. Does something like the Leap Manifesto make that easier or harder? Does embracing the Manifesto sideline the NDP to the point where it can't make any practical difference or does it help them galvanize the true will of the people and build a newer more humane and environmentally responsible Canadian political culture?
The answers to those questions are above my pay grade.
The text of the Manifesto follows.
We start from the premise that Canada is facing the deepest crisis in recent memory.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has acknowledged shocking details about the violence of Canada’s near past. Deepening poverty and inequality are a scar on the country’s present. And Canada’s record on climate change is a crime against humanity’s future.
These facts are all the more jarring because they depart so dramatically from our stated values: respect for Indigenous rights, internationalism, human rights, diversity, and environmental stewardship.
Canada is not this place today— but it could be.
We could live in a country powered entirely by renewable energy, woven together by accessible public transit, in which the jobs and opportunities of this transition are designed to systematically eliminate racial and gender inequality. Caring for one another and caring for the planet could be the economy’s fastest growing sectors. Many more people could have higher wage jobs with fewer work hours, leaving us ample time to enjoy our loved ones and flourish in our communities.
We know that the time for this great transition is short. Climate scientists have told us that this is the decade to take decisive action to prevent catastrophic global warming. That means small steps will no longer get us where we need to go.
So we need to leap.
This leap must begin by respecting the inherent rights and title of the original caretakers of this land. Indigenous communities have been at the forefront of protecting rivers, coasts, forests and lands from out-of-control industrial activity. We can bolster this role, and reset our relationship, by fully implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
“Small steps will no longer get us to where we need to go. So we need to leap”. Moved by the treaties that form the legal basis of this country and bind us to share the land “for as long as the sun shines, the grass grows and the rivers flow,” we want energy sources that will last for time immemorial and never run out or poison the land. Technological breakthroughs have brought this dream within reach. The latest research shows it is feasible for Canada to get 100% of its electricity from renewable resources within two decades; by 2050 we could have a 100% clean economy.
We demand that this shift begin now.
There is no longer an excuse for building new infrastructure projects that lock us into increased extraction decades into the future. The new iron law of energy development must be: if you wouldn’t want it in your backyard, then it doesn’t belong in anyone’s backyard. That applies equally to oil and gas pipelines; fracking in New Brunswick, Quebec and British Columbia; increased tanker traffic off our coasts; and to Canadian-owned mining projects the world over.
The time for energy democracy has come: we believe not just in changes to our energy sources, but that wherever possible communities should collectively control these new energy systems.
As an alternative to the profit-gouging of private companies and the remote bureaucracy of some centralized state ones, we can create innovative ownership structures: democratically run, paying living wages and keeping much-needed revenue in communities. And Indigenous Peoples should be first to receive public support for their own clean energy projects. So should communities currently dealing with heavy health impacts of polluting industrial activity.
Power generated this way will not merely light our homes but redistribute wealth, deepen our democracy, strengthen our economy and start to heal the wounds that date back to this country’s founding.
A leap to a non-polluting economy creates countless openings for similar multiple “wins.” We want a universal program to build energy efficient homes, and retrofit existing housing, ensuring that the lowest income communities and neighbourhoods will benefit first and receive job training and opportunities that reduce poverty over the long term. We want training and other resources for workers in carbon-intensive jobs, ensuring they are fully able to take part in the clean energy economy. This transition should involve the democratic participation of workers themselves. High-speed rail powered by renewables and affordable public transit can unite every community in this country – in place of more cars, pipelines and exploding trains that endanger and divide us.
And since we know this leap is beginning late, we need to invest in our decaying public infrastructure so that it can withstand increasingly frequent extreme weather events.
Moving to a far more localized and ecologically-based agricultural system would reduce reliance on fossil fuels, capture carbon in the soil, and absorb sudden shocks in the global supply – as well as produce healthier and more affordable food for everyone.
We call for an end to all trade deals that interfere with our attempts to rebuild local economies, regulate corporations and stop damaging extractive projects. Rebalancing the scales of justice, we should ensure immigration status and full protection for all workers. Recognizing Canada’s contributions to military conflicts and climate change — primary drivers of the global refugee crisis — we must welcome refugees and migrants seeking safety and a better life.
Shifting to an economy in balance with the earth’s limits also means expanding the sectors of our economy that are already low carbon: caregiving, teaching, social work, the arts and public-interest media. Following on Quebec’s lead, a national childcare program is long past due. All this work, much of it performed by women, is the glue that builds humane, resilient communities – and we will need our communities to be as strong as possible in the face of the rocky future we have already locked in.
Since so much of the labour of caretaking – whether of people or the planet – is currently unpaid, we call for a vigorous debate about the introduction of a universal basic annual income. Pioneered in Manitoba in the 1970’s, this sturdy safety net could help ensure that no one is forced to take work that threatens their children’s tomorrow, just to feed those children today.
We declare that “austerity” – which has systematically attacked low-carbon sectors like education and healthcare, while starving public transit and forcing reckless energy privatizations – is a fossilized form of thinking that has become a threat to life on earth.
The money we need to pay for this great transformation is available — we just need the right policies to release it. Like an end to fossil fuel subsidies. Financial transaction taxes. Increased resource royalties. Higher income taxes on corporations and wealthy people. A progressive carbon tax. Cuts to military spending. All of these are based on a simple “polluter pays” principle and hold enormous promise.
One thing is clear: public scarcity in times of unprecedented private wealth is a manufactured crisis, designed to extinguish our dreams before they have a chance to be born.
Those dreams go well beyond this document. “We call on all those seeking political office to seize this opportunity and embrace the urgent need for transformation”. We call for town hall meetings across the country where residents can gather to democratically define what a genuine leap to the next economy means in their communities.
Inevitably, this bottom-up revival will lead to a renewal of democracy at every level of government, working swiftly towards a system in which every vote counts and corporate money is removed from political campaigns.
This is a great deal to take on all at once, but such are the times in which we live.
The drop in oil prices has temporarily relieved the pressure to dig up fossil fuels as rapidly as high-risk technologies will allow. This pause in frenetic expansion should not be viewed as a crisis, but as a gift.
It has given us a rare moment to look at what we have become – and decide to change.
And so we call on all those seeking political office to seize this opportunity and embrace the urgent need for transformation. This is our sacred duty to those this country harmed in the past, to those suffering needlessly in the present, and to all who have a right to a bright and safe future.
Now is the time for boldness.
Now is the time to leap.
Sustainable Canada Dialogues. (2015). Acting on climate change: Solutions from Canadian scholars. Montreal, QC: McGill University
Jacobson, M., et al. Providing all global energy with wind, water, and solar power, Part I: Technologies, energy resources, quantities and areas of infrastructure, and materials. Energy Policy 39:3 (2011)
Here's the story so far, from when the Manifesto was announced during the 2015 election until today. I'm including the full range of commentary here, positive, negative, from the left, right and the whole spectrum in between. I haven't tried to be comprehensive, especially with items from the 2015 election period.
- 2015.09.15. Leap Manifesto Calls On Canada To Change, Well, Everything by Joshua Ostroff
- 2015.09.15. Naomi Klein’s Great Leap Backwards by Peter Foster
- 2015.09.15. How the climate crisis can change Canada for the better by Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis
- 2015.09.15. The Leap Manifesto and when celebrities politic: Naomi Klein unveils the Leap Manifesto, with a bevy of celebrity endorsements by Aaron Wherry
- 2015.09.15. Leap Manifesto gets poor marks for timing and content, otherwise fine by Globe and Mail Editorial
- 2015.09.15. Manifesto backed by prominent NDP supporters released ahead of election by CTV News
- 2015.09.16. Leap Manifesto plan to overthrow capitalism puts spanner in NDP plans to convince centrist voters by Tristin Hopper
- 2015.09.17. The Leap Manifesto isn't radical. It's a way out of Canada's head-in-the-sand politics by Martin Lukacs
- 2015.09.17. Naomi Klein’s Leap Manifesto shows NDP’s true colours by Lorrie Goldstein
- 2015.09.18. “Leap Manifesto”, a compelling, positive vision for Canada’s climate and economy by Citizen Action Monitor
- 2015.09.20. A climate justice leap can't fit in the ballot box by Jesse McLaren
- 2015.09.21. Election 2015: Will Canada Leap forward or fall back? by Chrstopher Majka
- 2015.09.22. Naomi Klein's 'Leap Manifesto' calls on the Canadian government to divest from fossil fuels by Katherine Martinko
- 2015.09.23. One ‘Leap’ we should take for fossil fuel subsidies by William Watson:
- 2015.09.23. Fildebrandt calls on NDP to denounce leap manifesto by Monique Massiah
- 2015.09.23. Naomi Klein's Giant Leap by Adria Vasil
- 2015.09.27. Leap Manifesto's Energy Policy Leaves Rural Dwellers Out by Karen Selick
- 2015.09.28. How Naomi Klein became Canada’s only voice for angry socialism
- 2015.10.04. Leap Manifesto Sets Sights on a Green Canada by 2050 by Maude Barlow
- 2015.10.05. “The NDP is afraid of being associated with this radical document,” says Naomi Klein of Leap Manifesto by Citizen Action Monitor
- 2015.10.05. Naomi Klein on The Leap Manifesto & What a System of Climate and Economic Justice Looks Like
- 2015.10.07. Leap Manifesto Too 'Radical'? Only Next to Parties' Modest Climate Plans by Seth Klein
- 2015.10.28. Leap Manifesto to anchor major November 5 climate rally in Vancouver by Travis Lupick
- 2015.11.06. Naomi Klein to Trudeau: Welcome, now let's 'Leap' to work on the climate by Megan Devlin
- 2015.12.03. Naomi Klein says politicians leading world to "very dangerous future" by Mychaylo Prystupa
- 2015.12.04. Naomi Klein’s ‘Leap Manifesto’: we can’t rely on big business for a climate fix by Peter Burdon
- 2015.12.19. Leap Manifesto is Luther’s 95 theses for the climate-haunted by Rex Murphy
- 2016.02.04. Let’s make this a real ‘leap’ year, and go fossil fuel-free by Naomi Klein
- 2016.02.12. NDP riding associations back Leap Manifesto ahead of party convention by The Canadian Press
- 2016.02.27. Why You Should Get Excited About 2016: It’s A Leap Year For Climate Justice by Bianca Mugyenyi
- 2016.04.03. Canada: Leap Manifesto unites broad forces, builds climate justice campaigns by John Riddell
- 2016.04.04. NDP should embrace Leap Manifesto, riding associations say ahead of party convention by Kirsty Kirkup
- 2016.04.07. Wildrose and Alberta NDP tag-team Tom Mulcair by Jason Markusoff
- 2016.04.07. 'Leap Manifesto' Can't Be Reduced To Slogan About Fossil Fuels Staying 'In The Ground': Avi Lewis by Ryan Maloney
- 2016.04.07. 2015 Green Party Platform Reflects Leap Manifesto Policy
- 2016.04.07. Does National Unity Have to be a Casualty of Canada's Energy Debate? by Jimmy Thomson
- 2016.04.08. Dumping on Alberta in its own backyard by Rex Murphy
- 2016.04.08. Avi Lewis wants Liberal government to adopt parts of Leap Manifesto by John Paul Taske
- 2016.04.08. Mulcair goes into self-preservation mode, says he would advocate for Leap Manifesto by Jen Gerson
- 2016.04.09. What is the Leap Manifesto? Talk of the NDP convention explained by Peder Myhr and Rebecca Joseph
- 2016.04.09. Alberta NDP take aim at Tom Mulcair over 'leap manifesto' by Kristy Kirkup
- 2016.04.09. Rachel Notley stands firm for pipelines at national NDP conference by CBC News
- 2016.04.10. Leap Manifesto: NDP agrees to explore staunch stance on fossil fuels by The Canadian Press
- 2016.04.10. Premier Notley May Step Down After Delegates Double-Cross Her…
- 2016.04.11. The NDP takes a flying Leap — off a cliff by Tasha Kheiriddin
- 2016.04.11. Naïve, tone deaf: Premier’s reaction to Leap Manifesto by Julia Parrish
- 2016.04.11. NDP plan to debate Leap Manifesto draws regional divide over energy by Justin Giovannetti and Daniel Leblanc
- 2016.04.11. As A Pragmatic Environmentalist, I Find The Leap Manifesto Wanting by Blair King
- 2016.04.11. Rachel Notley calls Leap Manifesto 'naive' and 'ill-informed': Alberta's premier says no need to split from federal NDP over fossil fuel and pipeline issues by Michelle Bellefontaine
- 2016.04.11. NDP Leap Manifesto bad policy: Alberta environment minister by Dean Bennett
- 2016.04.11. Notley repudiates Leap Manifesto but Alberta NDP will stick with federal party by James Wood
- 2016.04.11. Is the NDP ready for a Leap to the left? by Christo Aivalis
- 2016.04.11. Parts of Leap Manifesto make ‘no sense’ for B.C., NDP Leader John Horgan says by Justine Hunter
- 2016.04.11. As Mulcair era ends, NDP must stop hugging the mushy middleAfter turfing the party leader, New Democrats are in need of a raison d’etreOpinion by Andrew Mitrovica
- 2016.04.12. Let's get real about the Leap Manifesto: it's not a job killer by Charlie Smith
- 2016.04.12. Thomas Mulcair's very Canadian execution by Robin V. Sears
- 2016.04.12. NDP’s Leap is the Waffle reborn by Lawrence Martin
- 2016.04.12. The NDP takes a holiday from reality by L. Ian Macdonald
- 2016.04.12. NDP's messy convention guarantees more trouble by Les Leyne
- 2016.04.12. The federal NDP's "Leap" of faith advocates and Alberta's right-wing opposition: strange Bedfellows? by David Climenhaga
- 2016.04.12. The Leap Manifesto will push the NDP further into irrelevance, and this is good news for Alberta by Calgary Sun Editorial
- 2016.04.12. Avi Lewis on the ‘ideological battle’ over the Leap Manifesto: Avi Lewis on the climate crisis, Naomi Klein, and how he didn’t mean to ‘blow up the NDP convention’ by Jonathon Gatehouse
- 2016.04.12. Jean worried about impact of Leap Manifesto by Brenda Neufeld
- 2016.04.13. Middle-of-the-road Leap Manifesto hardly loony by Thomas Walkom
- 2016.04.13. Leap will kill Notley’s government — unless she turns it into a weapon by Brent Rathgeber
- 2016.04.13. The Leap Manifesto: What is it, and what could it mean for the NDP’s future? by Canadian Press/Globe and Mail
- 2016.04.13. Unifor President Jerry Dias: Leap Manifesto Debate At NDP Convention Was Thoughtless
- 2016.04.13. Manifesto a leap in wrong direction by Parry Sound North Sta
- 2016.04.13. PoV: Leap Manifesto a threat to Sudbury, NDP by Sudbury Star Editorial
- 2016.04.13. If … Then: Why the Leap Manifesto is just common sense by Joanna Kerr
- 2016.04.13. Why Leap isn’t a manifesto for the people: A founder of the NDP’s Waffle movement on why Leap doesn’t represent the left wing by James Laxer
- 2016.04.14. The Leap: Time for a reality check by Naomi Klein
- 2016.04.14. NDP's Leap Manifesto is both absurd and unworkable by Gordon Clark
- 2016.04.14. There’s more to Leap Manifesto than mischief by Phil Elder
- 2016.04.14. Brother Dias, Sister Notley: There will be no jobs on a dead planet by Gary Engler
- 2016.04.14. A wind farm in every kale patch! The NDP doubles down by Scott Feschuk
- 2016.04.14. Sorry, pundits of Canada. The Leap will bring us together by Avi Lewis
- 2016.04.14. Pipelines Or Indigenous Rights? Premier Notley Can't Have Both by DeSmog Canada
- 2016.04.15. Rather than fearing the Leap Manifesto, let's bring on the debate by Linda McQuaig
- 2016.04.15. The Leap Manifesto opens horizon for bold new politics in Canada by Marking Lukacs
- 2016.04.15. The Leap Manifesto: When did stating the obvious become ‘political suicide’? by Crawford Killian
- 2016.04.15. After Leap Manifesto, what's a Northern New Democrat to do? by Jonny Wakefield
- 2016.04.15. NDP Now Has Chance to End 13 Years of Error by Murray Dobbin
- 2016.04.15. Canada’s not the enemy — but don’t try telling that to Stephen and Avi Lewis by Rex Murphy
- 2016.04.15. NDP risks regional split over Leap Manifesto by Campbell Clark
- 2016.04.15. The Leap Manifesto is prescription for economic ruin by Barrie McKenna
- 2016.04.15. The Impossible Dream: Thomas Mulcair’s fall should be celebrated — but the New Democratic Party is a dead end for the Canadian left by Todd Gordon
- 2016.04.15. Leap Manifesto consigns NDP to electoral hinterland by Bill Black
- 2016.04.15. Pipelines or pipedreams? The Leap Manifesto and Alberta's dilemma by Christopher Majka
- 2016.04.15. Canada’s leftward swerve hits bump: Leap Manifesto by Bob Tippee
- 2016.04.15. Premier Notley on collision course with support for Energy East by Andrea Harden Donahue, Melina Laboucan-Massimo
- 2016.04.16. Friends of Science Society Announces Speakers for Climate Change "Leadership" Catastrophe Event May 10, 2016 and Says LEAP Manifesto Example of Poor Policy
- 2016.04.16. Notley faces a great leap into the unemployment line by Chris Nelson
- 2016.04.16. Saskatchewan NDP must find a way to unite by Murray Mandryk
- 2016.04.16. B.C. NDP struggles to shrug reputation as the 'party of No' by Richard Zussman
- 2016.04.16. I’ll Have Whatever This Idiot Is Smoking, Claims Leap Manifesto Will Bring Canadians Together… by The Boss
- 2016.04.17. This is My Manifesto by BC Veritas
- 2016.04.17. The NDP should look to Quebec for policy leadership by Dan Delmar
- 2016.04.17. Canada: Leap Manifesto unites broad forces to boost climate movement by John Riddell
- 2016.04.17. A look at the Leap Manifesto that is dividing the NDP by Sarah Bridge
- 2016.04.17. Federal NDP Leap Manifesto bad policy: Alberta environment minister by Larry Roberts
- 2016.04.17. Leap manifesto does not reflect NDP values: Notley
- 2016.04.18. Canadian oil and gas policy: To LEAP or to LEAD? by Bill Whitelaw
- 2016.04.18. Leap Manifesto needs to move farther left by Graham H. Cox
- 2016.04.18. Leap fans must heed Occupy leader’s warning by Bill Tieleman
- 2016.04.18. Albertans still fuming over the NDP’s Leap Manifesto by Gillian Steward
- 2016.04.18. There was no NDP Leap by Michael Laxer
- 2016.04.18. Yes, you can bet the rent money on Leap. by Peter Lowry
- 2016.04.18. Hotter than ever: capitalism, the Leap Manifesto and This Changes Everything
- 2016.04.18. Leap Manifesto should have been killed by Sheila Copps
- 2016.04.18. NDP Already Working to Bridge the Leap, Says MP Nathan Cullen by Jeremy J. Nuttall
- 2016.04.18. Look Before You Leap: A Working Albertan's Perspective On The Leap Manifesto by Doug O'Halloran
- 2016.04.18. Canada’s Leap Manifesto Is Leaping Backwards by Mike Barnard
- 2016.04.18. Why Canadian conservatives should cheer NDP's Great “Leap” Backwards by Harry Khachatrian
- 2016.04.19. Leap Manifesto allows NDP to consider new ideas by Tom Parkin
- 2016.04.19. The ‘Leap’ is Not a Protest, It is a Plan Democratically Supported At The NDP Convention by Richard Hughes
- 2016.04.19. Canadians won’t accept Leap because it breaks these two rules by Bruce Anderson
- 2016.04.19. The Leap Manifesto is a bit of a problem -- with love from an Alberta progressive by Bronwyn Bragg
- 2016.04.19. Brian Mulroney blasts Justin Trudeau’s handling of pipelines by John Ivison
- 2016.04.19. The NDP can Leap into relevance: Leap Manifesto debate can engage youth who want to believe in the future again by Shawn Katz
- 2016.04.20. My Two Bits - The NDP finds the road to the wilderness without a map by Dick Deryk
- 2016.04.20. Think Before You LEAP by Klaus L.E. Kaiser
- 2016.04.20. Premier Notley should stop pandering for ‘social license’ and practise energy pragmatism by Kenneth P. Green
- 2016.04.20. National NDP support for Alberta Premier Rachel Notley surprises pollsters by Otiena Ellwand
- 2016.04.21. Canada's Left is having a moment by Ed Broadbent, Michal Hay, Emilie Nicolas
- 2016.04.21. On Earth Day, look -- then Leap by John Dilllon
- 2016.04.21. Catherine McKenna praises Alberta, says Leap Manifesto 'not helpful' by Margo McDiarmid
- 2016.04.21. Leap Manifesto moves NDP from the “working class roots” to “nouvelle elite” by David Mackenzie
- 2016.04.21. New coalition calls for climate plan based on science, jobs and justice by Ethan Cox
- 2016.04.22. Start the Leap revolution without me by Thomas Homer Dixon
- 2016.04.22. Rachel Notley no longer needs the federal NDP by Jason Markusoff
- 2016.04.22. The Leap Manifesto is a path to jobs and justice by Crystal Lameman
- 2016.04.23.Leap Manifesto our best chance to start the national climate conversation we sorely need by Miles Krauter
- 2016.04.23. Canada acting 'like a bunch of villages as opposed to a nation' on pipelines, says Rachel Notley
- 2016.04.23. The great global greening is happening now by Margaret Wente
- 2016.04.24. Time for B.C. NDP to shed ‘forces of no’ label by kate Webb
Of course, this list isn't meant to be complete. However, if I've left out anything that's particularly worth noting, please let me know in the comments.
Update 2016.04.24. Numerous items added, bringing the story up to April 24th. Some stragglers added as well.