Saturday, April 06, 2013

On topics of discussion

In advance of next weekend's Montreal convention, the NDP has released the resolutions (PDF) to be voted on by delegates. And for all the distraction created by a non-binding constitutional preamble, the more interesting point to watch will be the treatment of substantive policy resolutions which look to confirm the NDP's position as Canada's true progressive party.

For those who want to see concerted action against tax havens and unbridled financial speculation (including a Robin Hood tax), an increased focus on social and community ownership and employment rather than capital interests, and a move away from corporate self-regulation, the NDP's economic resolutions address all of those issues.

For those interested in social issues typically ignored by Canada's other political parties such as focusing on intergenerational fairness, basing policy on the social determinants of health, expanding and strengthening of the Canada Health Act, and eliminating mandatory minimum sentences, those subjects will also be up for discussion within the social investment panel.

And for those wanting a trade policy which doesn't handcuff Canadian governments, a system to protect the rights of temporary foreign workers or an explicit focus on diplomatic measures over military action, the panel on Canada's place in the world will address all of those possibilities.

What's more, the particularly progressive motions in each of the above policy areas will include resolutions put forward by the NDP's Quebec section (among other groups within the party). Which provides a strong indication that the province which gave the NDP its 2011 electoral breakthrough is fully on board with the type of social democratic principles which have long motivated the NDP's base across Canada.

Of course, there will be some obvious areas of debate: the group of resolutions on the environment and sustainable development in particular includes a number of competing proposals, while a number of resolutions across a wide range of areas will challenge conventional wisdom and past NDP policy alike.

But that only means there will be plenty of opportunity to hash out exactly where the NDP wants to go as a party. And the contrast between the flood of progressive ideas on display in Montreal and the Libs' continued choice to consciously stand for nothing should serve the NDP and its members well in building enthusiasm for the years to come.


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