Thursday, March 29, 2012

Guest Post: On governing authorities

Dan Tan offers another guest post - this one responding to a bit of misplaced advice from Embassy with a helpful reminder as to how policy is formulated within the NDP:
The foreign-affairs publication 'Embassy' recently published the following article: Advocates hope new Opposition leader shifts NDP position on Israel
The election of Thomas Mulcair as leader of the New Democratic Party could signal a coming shift in the party's policy on Israel, some advocates predict...
I am sure many NDP members will treat its content as a sort of "prophecy". But in reality, the article is actually engaging in advocacy, not analysis. The article has no intention of examining NDP policy on Israel/Palestine. Rather, its intention is to send Thomas Mulcair himself a rather crude message.

In an article ostensibly about Mulcair & the NDP's Israel/Palestine's telling that none of those topics are actually explored. Though Mulcair's name comes up, his Israel/Palestine policy statement (released during the leadership campaign) is completely ignored. The NDP's existing policy is reduced to one sentence from the foreign affairs critic. The grass-roots collaborative NDP policy-making process is totally disregarded.

Instead, the article chooses to highlight various winks & nudges from Canadian advocates of the Israeli government. And in case those advocates were too coy, the author (Ingrid Walter) concludes by presenting Mulcair with an absolutely bizarre claim. Walter cites an Ipsos exit poll of Jewish-Canadian voters. In it, the Conservatives scored a majority of 52%. Without wincing, Walter attempts to convince Mulcair that a "pro-Israel" NDP would also score 52%.

It never crosses Walter's mind that many Jewish-Canadian voters were simply responding to economic policies or a fatigue of minority parliament. [Ed. note: Nor that it's possible to test whether "pro-Israel" policies actually tend to move votes and other support.] Instead, the mere sight of Thomas Mulcair echoing the Cons' foreign policy is somehow supposed to move Jewish-Canadian voters en masse toward the NDP.

Many NDP members (like myself) trust that Thomas Mulcair is intelligent enough to recognize the desperation & comedy behind such an inducement. But for those members who still have doubts, the NDP constitution provides clarity as to where the party's policy is developed:
Conventions are the supreme governing body of the Party and shall have final authority in all matters of federal policy, program and constitution.
The NDP Federal Council shall have full authority to issue policy statements and election statements in the name of the Party, consonant with the decisions of the Convention, and to initiate policy statements consonant with the philosophy of the Party in matters not yet considered by Convention.

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