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Statement of Principles

Statement of Principles
Adopted by the 12th Federal NDP Convention,
Regina, July 1, 1983.

The New Democratic Party believes that the pursuit of peace and democratic socialism are the two imperatives of a more secure and just modern world.

We believe that as peace must prevail over war, so must co- operation and mutual responsibility prevail over private gain and competition as the guiding principles of social and economic life.

We seek a compassionate and caring society, servicing the needs of all.

The New Democratic Party is proud to be part of that great world- wide movement of democratic socialist parties which have always striven to replace oppression and privilege with democracy and equality.

Our Ends

Socialists around the world share as their goal a society from which exploitation of one person by another, of one class by another, of one group or sex by another, will be eliminated. We believe in a society where each person will have the chance to develop his or her talents to the full. This ideal, a society based on equality, within a world of equally respected nations, is the major aim of democratic socialism.

Democracy and freedom are at the very heart of democratic socialism. We know that we must strive for those values which will uplift the human spirit. Our goal is a society in which the worth and dignity of every human being is recognized and respected, and in which differences of origin, of religion and of opinion will be not only tolerated but valued as desirable and necessary to the beauty and richness of the human mosaic.

But the human spirit cannot thrive when economic needs remain unsatisfied. And so we seek an end to material suffering, economic want and lack of opportunity.

We affirm our belief in the need for ecological priorities to guide technological and economic decisions so that valuable common resources are not depleted or polluted and global justice becomes possible.

We affirm our commitment to the preservation of the family farm, other family enterprises and small business.

We affirm our belief that aboriginal peoples have the right to shape their own future out of their own past and to possess the institutions necessary to survive and flourish.

The women's movement has challenged us to fulfil the socialist commitment to end sexual discrimination, unequal pay and opportunity and violence against women. The crisis of technological unemployment and changes in the family must be met by socialists so that women as a group are not victimized.

The right to participate in the trade union movement, including the right to organize, to engage in collective bargaining and the right of workers to withdraw their services if necessary are fundamental in a democratic society. Workers' rights in the workplace must be defended and indeed strengthened.

Our goals, then, are an egalitarian society guaranteeing human freedom and providing social and economic security in a world free of tyranny.

Socialists hold that together these goals form the moral basis for the political, economic and social order necessary for the future of humanity.

Our Means

We begin with democracy. The consent of the people, freely expressed, is at the heart of the socialist philosophy. We work to broaden and extend democracy into all aspects of human endeavour, and to create real opportunities for people to participate in making their decision which affect their lives.

Socialists believe in planning. We reject the capitalist theory that the unregulated laws of supply and demand should control the destiny of society and its members. Society can control its own destiny by planning its future. And this planning must be an expression of the will of the people, not imposed on them from above.

Finally, socialists believe that social ownership is an essential means to achieve our goals. This means not simply the transfer of title of large enterprises to the state. We believe in decentralized ownership and control, including co-operatives and credit unions, greater public accountability, and progressive democratization of the workplace.

Our Historical Task

In the summer of 1933, delegates assembled in Regina for the first national convention of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, the predecessor to the NDP. The ravages of the great depression had brought them together to form one party, with a determination to realize the "Co-operative Commonwealth", and prepared to compromise their self-interest to forge a common agenda of reform: the Regina Manifesto.

Among these Canadians was an optimistic and defiant insistence that ordinary people - despite major difference of region, ethnic origin and social class - could act together, democratically and independently of powerful "vested interests" to realize the common good.

Much has been achieved since the passing of the Regina Manifesto.

We are entitled to say with pride that, because of the democratic socialist movement, Canada is a better place in which to live. The winning of the struggle to establish unemployment insurance and medicare has changed the lives of millions of Canadians for the better.

Much has changed since the Regina Manifesto. Stronger provincial and local governments capable of realizing the important tasks of economic and social development have emerged. The public domain has been expanded on a scale unimaginable in the 1930s.

Much, however, remains to be done. Poverty, mass unemployment, and an unacceptable concentration of power and wealth persist as moral affronts to a society which values economic and social justice.

The environment has been damaged and the wastage will continue if not checked by strong measures. Many Canadians having migrated in the millions from farm to city, now find themselves without a sense of community: living in large impersonal cities and working in alienating surroundings.

Finally, the technology of war has made ours the first generation which must confront the prospect of the annihilation of our species in a nuclear holocaust.

Now fifty years later we need to renew that convention's sense of urgency, of commitment to fundamental change, and of willingness to act beyond narrow self-interest.

Commitment to Canada

In 1983 much still remains unsettled as to the nature of Canada.

The only basis for change in the Canadian federation can be respect for its regionalism, and for its duality.

We view the demand by Canadians to decentralize, where feasible, political authority as proof that Canadians want to participate more directly in the political decisions that affect their lives.

The desire to decentralize means more than provincial rights. Our cities must assume the imprint of their citizens. Credit unions and co-operatives can provide democratic alternatives to large financial and corporate institutions.

Canadians, however, also want a strong Canadian government, strong enough to guarantee our national independence and our ability to forge a strong Canadian economy in the face of world competition.

We want a federal government which will guarantee to each of us a share of our national prosperity regardless of the region in which we live.

Canadians face an enduring problem on the North American continent because of the extent of American corporate ownership of the Canadian economy. The Canadian government must serve as our collective instrument in pursuing the goal of a more independent Canadian economy in which the priorities are not set for us a in foreign head office.

The unique and enduring identity of the French Canadian people is a fundamental reality in Canada. Because few French Canadians attended the 1933 convention of our Party, the delegates were to underestimate the importance Quebecois attached, and would continue to attach, to the rights of their national assembly as the guardian of their culture, and as an instrument for the economic development of the only province in which French Canadians form a majority.

While we in the NDP assert the right of the Quebecois to determine freely their own future, we hope that in the exercise of their democratic rights they do not choose independence for we firmly believe that the aspirations of the Quebecois and all French Canadians are realizable within a new Canadian union.

Whatever our differences have been, it is long past due that we, in the NDP, join with those on the left in Quebec and French Canadians elsewhere, for the challenges which face us and the bonds which bind us are much greater that the differences, however profound, that have kept us apart.

In 1983, meeting again in convention in Regina, we rededicate ourselves in the struggle for a humane and democratic society.

The New Democratic Party will not rest content until we have achieved a democratic socialist Canada, and we are confident that only such a Canada can make its rightful contribution to the creation of a more just, democratic and peaceful world.


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