Over the past few days, I've highlighted a few policy resolutions I'd like to see promoted and discussed at the NDP's federal convention this weekend in Montreal. But I'll take a few minutes to discuss the topic that's receiving the most media attention in advance of the convention - even if I see its significance as largely overstated.
Aaron Wherry compares the text of the NDP's proposed constitutional preamble to the existing wording here. And the trend to be seen in the existing language, the 2011 proposal and the new draft looks primarily to involve the use of lengthier and weaker wording to describe much the same set of concepts.
That means I'm not hugely excited to see the amendment pushed forward. If nothing else, I'd hope there's room for some editing - in part to cut down on the preamble's length, and in part to reinstate a few concepts (such as social ownership) which don't appear the current version, but remain consistent with the overarching vision of government as a force for the common good.
That said, I also don't consider it a major problem if the new wording passes as is. Again, the general principles included in the new version leave plenty of room for all the progressive policy one could possibly hope to see - that is, so long as the role of government in pursuing the common good is defined through more detailed policy.
Which brings me back to my broader view of this weekend's convention. I don't see the constitutional issue as carrying too much weight one way or the other, but the treatment of policy resolutions which haven't been treated as party priorities (both in the ability of delegates to change the agenda to suit members' concerns, and in the party's response to resolutions that pass as a result) will be the most important test for the NDP. And if party loyalists manage to block any change to the preamble while being unable to substantially shape current party policy, that doesn't strike me as a positive outcome for anybody.