Neo-Socialist Vision for 21st-Century Canada

By Romanow, Roy | Canadian Speeches, April 1997 | Go to article overview

Neo-Socialist Vision for 21st-Century Canada


Romanow, Roy, Canadian Speeches


ROY ROMANOW

Premier of Saskatchewan

The birthplace of Canadian socialism is portrayed as a 21st-century model of Canadian core values of sharing, compassion, tolerance and opportunity. Saskatchewan produced Canada's first socialist government, Medicare, and the Canadian Commonwealth Federation and New Democratic parties, which in turn played key roles in much of the nation's social legislation of the last half century. With an NDP administration once again in office, Saskatchewan has a booming economy and the lowest unemployment rate in Canada. It has eliminated its public sector deficit, reduced the provincial sales tax, and increased spending on health, education, and roads. Saskatchewan's approach is urged as a national policy. Prepared text of a speech delivered to New Democratic Party national convention in Regina, April 11.

Once again, we come together as New Democrats.

We are gathered here in Regina so that we can connect to our deepest purposes. So that we can bring forth core values. So that we can recall our vision for a good society. And--most important for all--so that, in renewing the commitments which have always energized us, we can gain strength for the struggle that lies ahead: the fight for a just and sound and healthy nation; and our ongoing quest for strong and responsible government.

The purpose of a nation

At heart, a nation represents a moral commitment by its members to share in a common future--a commitment to act together to build fairness and equality, and to establish the basic conditions and structures of our social and economic lives to achieve those goals of fairness and equality.

Shared opportunity. Shared responsibility. This is the democratic socialist way. This is the Saskatchewan way. This is the Canadian way.

When various Canadian communities first joined together in Confederation to form Canada, they made this kind of moral commitment to a shared future. They formed a nation which is something greater than--and different from--the sum of its parts.

As we know, Canada was not settled easily, nor without risks and hardships. But, from the very earliest days, we have understood that each of us depends on the concern and the compassion of all to survive -- to understand this sense of shared responsibility as well as shared opportunity.

Our belief in sharing extends from community to community. We share between provinces and between regions. And we believe in sharing intergenerationally.

We share in our hopes, our dreams, our fears, our aspirations, and our values. We stand for the values of community, co-operation, and compassion. We stand for shared responsibility.

These have been Canada's cornerstones; these have always been the touchstones of the CCF and NDP. And from these values have grown the true heart of Canada's identity.

Today, promotion and protection of these values has dramatically slipped from the debate about Canada's future in the 21st century. With the notable exception of our MPs, our leader, and our provincial and territorial NDP governments, the dialogue has been monopolized by those who have either surrendered to outside forces--or forgotten our Canadian values. Thus, we see the Liberals moving further and further to the right, competing with the Tories and Reform; entrenching the politics of division and distrust.

Friends, when community interests and needs are relentlessly ignored and community responses -- by governments, as instruments of collective will -- are purposely neglected, it is little wonder that so many Canadians have lost confidence in the ability of government to speak to them or for them.

It's why alienation -- and even resentment -- continues to exist among our various communities.

And it's why the next federal election is so important. Because, quite clearly, we need to elect Alexa and New Democrats to Ottawa if we are going to see a return to co-operation, compassion, and tolerance; a return to our values. …

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