Saturday, April 10, 2021

On unconventional circumstances

Like 2,000+ other members across the country, I've been participating in the NDP's convention over the course of the weekend. And with one day in the books, I'll take note of a few of the differences between this and traditional in-person conventions - as well as the effects they've had on the party's effort to connect people in advance of an election anticipated in the near future.

On the plus side, it's always a plus to hear direct perspectives on what's happening at different levels of government. That said, it's been striking how narrow the list of invited speakers in two respects. 

First, it's consisted entirely of people with formal party affiliations rather than anybody with similar goals without a direct role within the party - which has the unfortunate effect of building affinity relationships at the expense of outreach. And second, among those speakers, nearly all of the time allocated to individuals has been allocated to party leaders. 

That's consistent with the choice to focus federally on running a centralized, leader-focused campaign. But in addition to limiting the diversity of the speakers in terms of equity factors, it also sets up a perception of a top-down view of the party which should be anathema a party committed to diversity and egalitarianism.

Meanwhile, there's been plenty of familiar criticism of the lack of time to debate and vote on resolutions. Predictably, that issue has been exacerbated by the virtual format and associated decisions about process. (And if the precedent set yesterday of allowing for amendments from the floor continues, that could get all the worse.)

But while that represents a perennial complaint, I've been more surprised to see training and networking largely taken out of the picture. To be fair, the party is doing plenty on those fronts outside of the convention - but the opportunity to gather this large a group of participants seems like it's wasted in the absence of to learn from or talk to any new people.

For more, see commentary from Christo Aivalis.

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