Thursday, January 25, 2007


Once-upon-a-time New Democrats knew that there were Limits to Growth. They knew about the Club of Rome, about Silent Spring and about the Population Bomb. They knew that resources were finite and that their unrestricted extraction would cause irreparable damage. They knew that “growth” was the ideology of the cancer cell. Yes, in the 1970’s the environment was very much on the agenda. Party academic and scholar Charles Taylor spoke of “the politics of the steady-state” and John Harney ran his federal leadership campaign on those kinds of issues.

Here’s what the B. C. NDP stated in 1972:

“An NDP government will undertake a study of the effects of continued exponential growth in the Province of B. C.
“Such a study of the exponential growth in B. C. would investigate the possibility of taking all steps deemed necessary to deal adequately with the situation.
“The Environmental Control Committee of the provincial NDP will study the adoption of a steady-state economic policy, the concept of progress and limited growth, and the party’s stand on this matter.”
“It is recommended that a federally-sponsored permanent research group be established to investigate all aspects of growth and to submit recommendations for action. Such a research group would be required to submit reports within two years of its establishment, and at subsequent two year intervals.”
“An NDP government will give top priority to environmental problems with particular emphasis on population control.”
“An NDP government will encourage all means which will bring about voluntary limitation of population.”
“Immediate steps will be taken to educate the public in the urgent necessity of halting population growth.”

(From Policies for People, Policies of the B.C. NDP 1961-78, p.30)

So what happened to all of this? Somehow the NDP lost its vision. Its prescient grasp of the impending ecological crisis slipped away into the hands of those who would have us believe that we can “have our cake and eat it too”. That we can have Economic Growth—“development”—and environmental integrity at the same time. They reconcile these contradictory goals with self-delusional, trendy oxymorons like “sustainable development” and---my personal favourite—“smart growth”. The NDP has become a party not just about dividing up the economic pie more equitably—but about “growing” the pie too. “Raise the economic tide so that all boats, rich and poor, may float.”

In this they are not to be distinguished from any other party. Even the Greens, beneath their rhetoric, are committed to Economic Growth, because their leader Elizabeth May shares Layton, Harper and Dion’s goal of boosting Canada’s population to 40 million via immigration ( Immigration accounts for two-thirds of the country’s population growth, and it is that, coupled with per capita consumption rates, which drives economic growth. And economic growth is eclipsing wildlife habitat and spurring greenhouse emissions.

No Jack, it’s not about driving Green cars, or building windmills, or retro-fitting houses. It’s about stabilizing our population level, limiting economic growth, and finally establishing what we talked about 35 years ago—a steady-state economy.

Jack, GET REAL, GET SERIOUS AND STOP BEING SUCH A POLITICIAN. START TELLING THE WHOLE TRUTH. Let’s get back to the future, and pick up where we left off in 1972. Kyoto and Economic Growth don’t mix.

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