Saturday, March 27, 2010

On open discussions

Following up on this afternoon's post, I'll note one more tidbit from this afternoon's bear pit session which deserves a post of its own.

Throughout the convention, there's been a regular theme encouraging members and others to present whatever ideas they want to put forward within the policy review process, and concurrently making it clear that party members should keep an open mind toward even ideas which might seem "out there" on their face. But in the second-last answer of the session, Dwain Lingenfelter went a step further, telling members not to worry what the press or others outside the party might think of any idea being considered by the party. Which sends a signal that not only will the NDP encourage a fair hearing within the party for the ideas generated by the policy review, but it'll also be willing to defend the concept of open policy discussion against outside attacks rather than shutting down any topic of debate based on image concerns.

Of course, it'll be important to back up that intention with actions when it's (inevitably) tested - and to make sure that the review process itself actually plays a meaningful role in the party's policy development. But Lingenfelter's stand for a truly open policy discussion should at least do plenty to encourage creative thinking in the policy review process. And the more the principle gets absorbed into the NDP's party culture generally, the better our chances of moving past the current politics of segmentation toward a model allowing for far more authentic public involvement.

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