Friday, June 24, 2011

On maturing processes

Let's take a look at a couple of final issues from #vancon2011, starting with the series of machinations around resolutions ruling out merger or non-compete agreements with the Liberals.

As I noted at the time, the convention planners gave a prominent place to a resolution ruling out a merger with the Liberals while giving a lower priority to one also ruling out a non-compete agreement - perhaps signalling that at least some within the party saw substantially different issues between the two, and an anti-merger resolution as a more reasonable outcome. But the panel combined the two into a single resolution.

Meanwhile, both resolutions referred specifically to the Libs alone, rather than to a set of general principles to be applied to dealings with other parties. (I'd hoped to amend the resolution in panel to remove the Lib reference so that it would apply to the NDP's dealings with any other party, but the question got called first.)

That left the plenary session to deal with a strongly-worded and restrictive resolution aimed solely at the Libs. And a combination of poorly-received speeches in favour and a strong appeal from Peter Stoffer in opposition resulted in the resolution being defeated.

Of course, that isn't to say that there seemed to be any particular appetite on the part of anybody speaking on either side to approve of merger or non-compete talks. But the plenary vote reflected the willingness of delegates to live up to the party's message of leaving the door open for co-operation where it's possible to do some good in the process.

Which figures to be a plus in the long run. But I'd think the progress of the resolution shows there's still work for the party to do in recognizing and defining its place on the Canadian political scene.

In effect, it seems that at least some delegates were eager to single out the Libs for denigration based on last month's election results. And the focus might have been understandable to a point given the longstanding rivalry between the two parties, as well as the fact that as recently as a couple of months ago the NDP perceived itself as facing an uphill climb to overtake the Libs.

But from my standpoint, the focus of the resolutions only made exactly the same mistake the NDP has criticized in others for so long - ascribing undue importance to the Libs instead of zeroing in on what the NDP has done and can do as a party. And hopefully by the next convention, the respective positioning of the NDP and the Libs (which still seems new now) will have become familiar enough that delegates won't see the need to trumpet it.

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