Sunday, January 03, 2016

On rebuilding steps

I've posted before about the NDP's strong progressive stance since the October election - which looks to be a positive move in terms of principles and politics alike. 

But there's also a great deal of work to be done on the party side. And I'll suggest a couple of points which strike me as important in advance of the spring convention where Tom Mulcair's leadership is up for review.

First, there's the seemingly simple matter of the party's policy book (which I believe is found in an updated PDF here) and other member-generated documents.

As a reminder, the policy book was originally developed as part of Jack Layton's effort to professionalize the party - providing a statement of core values which could then form the foundation for platform development (while being general enough to allow plenty of room for maneuvering).

Nothing has been done to make the policy book any less authoritative than it ever was in reflecting the policy set by NDP members. And it would thus seem important both as a standing expression of values, and a starting point for resolutions which riding associations may want to develop.

But the policy book was removed from the NDP's website in advance of the election based on what still strikes me as a dubious rationale. And it doesn't seem to have been replaced since; in fact, the party's website no longer seems to point to any of the party documentation which was once available.

At best, that might be explained based on the party's priorities falling elsewhere in the immediate aftermath of the election. But if the issue was once one of a perceived lack of urgency, an impending resolution deadline for the convention surely makes it worth letting people know where party policy stands now. (And I'd also argue it's worth making sure that far more of the party's history in action, including convention resolutions past and present, is preserved and made available.)

Second, there's the concern about the central campaign's treatment of important parts of the progressive social movement - which arose both in candidate vetting, and in the message sent to some candidates during the campaign.

There's little way for the party to know what it can (or can't) accomplish by reaching out to the people who were refused a place within the election campaign. But at the very least, it should make the effort to do so on the basis that winning back past supporters and strengthening ties with the activist left need to be top priorities following a disappointing election.

If some of the key individuals who were turned away directly or who spoke out at the time can be brought back into the fold, that would go a long way toward confirming that Mulcair can win over some of the people who tuned out the NDP in 2015 and lead a movement-based party toward power. But even if Mulcair didn't find a receptive ear, he and the party would be better off for recognizing the need to try.

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