Following up on this post, I'll weigh in with my own take on the federal NDP's leadership review - based primarily on the question of what Tom Mulcair seems to have taken away from the 2015 federal election, and how it will position the party in the years to come.
As alluded to in some previous posts, I'd sum up my expectations in the wake of the election to be roughly the following:
- to critically assess what happened in the previous election campaign to determine what lessons can be learned, both for better and for worse;
- to put to rest any (however implausible) question as to which is the most progressive party in Parliament;
- to prioritize MP empowerment and outreach over caution and discipline;
- to transition away from "default opposition" status toward a stronger
focus on policies and values; and
- to focus on long-term and broad-based movement-building, including with a concerted effort to approach people who were excluded from involvement with the party.
And on all counts, I'd see Mulcair as having at least taken meaningful steps down the right path.
The NDP's interim report and final campaign review (PDF) has received plenty of attention. And both offer at least a useful high-level set of reflections and ideas.
But some of the more noteworthy moves since the election also include significant issue-based initiatives by MPs, as well as a strong policy focus on inequality, precarious work and fairness for First Nations. And Mulcair's own pre-budget tour featured ample interactions with party activists and interested newcomers alike, while his pre-convention discussions have included some important recognition of the need to build from the NDP's membership base.
The most important question for me is then whether those steps should be seen as a temporary nod to the base in light of the impending leadership review, or the starting point in building the movement needed to elect a truly progressive federal government. And I see both reason for optimism that Mulcair himself recognizes the need for a change in course following the election, and another opportunity to address any continued shortcomings at the next NDP policy convention.
When the generally positive direction in a new political environment is combined with the strengths Mulcair has always brought to the table, I'm looking forward to seeing what he can work on building given the opportunity. And so I'll be voting to support Mulcair in Edmonton - with both the hope and the expectation that we'll see more sustainable party renewal without a leadership race than with one.