Sunday, March 28, 2010

Saskatchewan NDP Convention - Sunday Wrapup

The Saskatchewan NDP convention ended this morning with another lively session featuring elections, constitutional amendments and policy resolutions to go with two speeches (a presentation from Save Our Saskatchewan Crowns, as well as a final address from Dwain Lingenfelter).

Two elections were contested: a seven-candidate race for five vice president positions (which saw Kent Peterson of Humble Opinion elected along with Kent Lindgren, Wil Olive, Sherry Magnusson and Brandi Tracksell-Sampson), followed by a two-candidate race for treasurer won by Arlee McGrath.

While the elections took top priority on the agenda this morning, a noteworthy set of constitutional amendments came next in the order of precedence with mixed results. The convention passed two amendments: CA1 to constitutionalize a candidate screening process (which to my surprise didn't face any opposition), and a housekeeping amendment in CA3. Two amendments which would theoretically have served to reduce the scope for discussion at conventions (one to reduce maximum speaking times, the other to close discussion after two consecutive speakers present on one side of an issue without opposition) were defeated, and the composition of the NDP's executive was referred for review after CA5 (deleting at-large members) also failed.

Not surprisingly, the combination of nine election speeches, two votes and a long list of constitutional amendments left little time to deal with policy, with the result that only one resolution from the health/education/social development panel was considered - and that only because the convention agreed to prioritize ED1 supporting First Nations University of Canada. Meanwhile, four emergency resolutions passed, including support for unionized workers at Affinity Credit Union, a resolution on SCN and the Saskatchewan film industry, a strong condemnation of the Sask Party's political interference in the hiring of a Chief Electoral Officer, and a call to restore the Aboriginal Employment Development Program.

I'll have more discussion about the impact of the convention in the next couple of days. But even as a relatively relaxed event sandwiched between two which figure to play exceptionally large roles in the party's development (between 2009's leadership contest and the 2011 policy convention), the convention still saw plenty of passionate debate while bringing the party together for what looks to be an extended election campaign. And if this spring will indeed play a large part in determining where each party stands going into next year's election, I'd have to figure that the NDP has reason to be happy with its position after this weekend.

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