Tuesday, April 14, 2009

On renewal strategies

leftdog has posted Ryan Meili's responses to the SNDW's questions about engaging women in the Saskatchewan NDP. And while the answers nicely cover the questions asked, they also go a lot further in setting out a grassroots-based view of how a party should operate:
Too often in our party, there has been no succession planning, no deliberate process of institutional renewal in constituency associations and party sections. We should be constantly identifying and mentoring potential new leaders. This process includes a determined effort to seek out women, and people from other under-represented groups, as candidates and party leaders.
All candidacies should be challenged. No candidate for a nomination – no incumbent MLA, no identified star candidate, not even the leader – will be protected from a contested nomination.
Now, it's worth noting that in form the Saskatchewan NDP already has contested nominations, rather than setting up any artificial barriers to possible challenges. But as important as it is to allow for the process in theory, it takes plenty more dedication to grassroots democracy to encourage its use in practice.

From Meili's response, his position seems to include that added step - leaving the door significantly more open than it is now for a "more and better New Democrats" movement. And the view that "candidacies should be challenged" combined with active mentorship of future party leaders would seem to create an ideal set of conditions to ensure that even the safest NDP riding sees regular internal renewal and development.

Of course, the prospect of encouraging nomination competitions may not be quite as popular with those who have enjoyed the absence of challenges over the past few election cycles. But there are plenty within the Saskatchewan NDP who recognize that the greater goal of building a party with sustained activity is far more important than hanging on to internal turf. (Indeed, word is that another major figure within the party will be announcing an endorsement in advance of the leadership debates tomorrow.) And hopefully Meili's vision for internal renewal will ultimately carry the day regardless of how the leadership race plays out.

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