We are among the many Canadians who are joining the New Democratic Party or renewing our membership in order to support Niki Ashton’s bid to become NDP leader. We invite you to join us in supporting her candidacy.
Niki Ashton was the first leadership candidate to courageously choose to address Palestine in her federal platform. Since then, she has shown consistent and principled support for the Palestinian people’s rights to self-determination, justice and dignity. She has used her platform to commemorate the Nakba and to stand with Palestinian hunger strikers held in Israeli administrative detention. She has been unapologetic and fearless when confronted with criticisms of these stances.
The conditions under which Palestinians now live are so appalling, and our government’s complicity in that suffering is so profound, that demanding justice for Palestinians ought now to be considered a political litmus test. A candidate who supports human rights for Palestinians shows that she understands the key issues and is courageous enough to address them in the face of public criticism. If this litmus test is failed, that candidate will eventually disappoint you on any other issues that matter to you.
For this reason, along with her continued commitments to our indigenous community, environmental justice, universal access to healthcare, free tuition and student debt relief, and ending gender-based violence and discrimination, we believe Niki Ashton is the only way forward for the New Democratic Party, and for Canada as a whole.
Currently, Canada’s government accords charitable status to the Jewish National Fund, which discriminates against Palestinians in the allocation of land in Israel. Canada’s government encourages extensive trade between the Canadian and Israeli military industries. Canada’s government votes consistently against United Nations resolutions condemning Israel’s human rights abuses, even though those resolutions enjoy overwhelming international support. Canada’s government allows products produced in Israel’s settlements – which constitute a war crime – to be sold in Canada bearing deceptive “Product of Israel” labels. As if this were not enough, our government is sitting idly by while Israel renders life unbearable for the 2 million inhabitants of Gaza. Trapped in a crumbling and sweltering open air prison with little if any electricity and meagre rations of food, the people of Gaza, one half of whom are children, have been reduced to a cruel experiment in the limits of human endurance.
To challenge all this, we need political leadership that speaks out fearlessly in favour of human rights for everyone. This is where you come in. This is what you need to know to make Niki Ashton the next leader of the New Democratic Party.
To vote for Niki, you must be an NDP member. Some of you may have supported another political party in the past, but no political party deserves unconditional loyalty. A political party deserves your support only when it is a vehicle to a better world. Our overarching loyalty ought to be to the values of justice, humanity and sustainability. A candidate who embodies those values, a candidate like Niki Ashton, deserves your support regardless of your past political affiliation.
Joining the NDP is simple. You can join through Niki’s official website, (nikiashton2017.ca), where you can also donate to her campaign or become a volunteer. If you’re under 26 years old or if you are un(der)employed, joining the NDP costs only $5. If you’re over 26 and employed full-time, the cost is $25 for a one-year membership. The last day to become a party member and vote for the next NDP leader is August 17. Online voting for the leadership race opens on September 18.
Niki has the courage of her convictions to win this race, but she can’t do it alone. It’s going to take all of us to make her the next leader of the New Democratic Party.
Dimitri Lascaris, Farida Fareh Lascaris, Stephanie Kelly, David Heap