My NDP friends like to rag on my Liberals about a policy process that's top-down, and that dampens grass-roots activism. Some of the criticism is fair, some of it's not. I wonder though how they feel about what's happening in their own party ahead of their own Seinfeld convention:
Absent this time will be the spam of lunatic resolutions from the party's fringe members such as 2006's proposal to have a trans-gender Day of Remembrance; the proposition from one riding association that the entire economy be nationalized; and, the motion from another constituency to have Canada withdraw from NORAD, NATO and the WTO. None of these resolutions was adopted but they took up valuable policy debate time and left the enduring impression that the entire party had slipped down a rabbit hole.What would an NDP convention be without wacky, idealistic and untenable policy resolutions? I guess we're about to find out, if the NDP brass gets their way in ensuring nothing that the powers that be feel would be embarrassing makes it to the convention floor.
This time around, the party machine has tightened the leash on which the hardliners have attempted to hang themselves in the past. Jack Layton made gains at the last election, winning two and half million votes and 37 seats, by presenting the NDP as moderate and mainstream.
Party officials are keen to present today's NDP as a professional and competent social democratic party, in the mould of Gary Doer's three-time majority government in Manitoba.
Rather than adopt an unruly rag-tag of policies from the convention floor, the party has put together a policy document and asked the grassroots to send in their proposed resolutions for suggested improvements. "We've grown up," is how one New Democrat put it. "It's part of the ongoing modernization of the party."
But they'll probably be distracted by this compelling name-change drama anyways. Because a new name is really what the NDP needs.
As I said, we Liberals have our own policy drama so far be it from be to get too righteous about the NDP clamp-down on the grassroots. Perhaps, though, my NDP friends will remember the same in the future too. Recommend this Post on Progressive Bloggers