Let’s put democracy back in the NDP
An open letter from the Courage Coalition calling to expand the NDP’s internal democracy
We call on the New Democratic Party, in the year of its 60th anniversary, to live up to its name. The upcoming virtual convention in April 2021 provides us with an opportunity to expand the NDP’s internal democracy and affirm the active voice that members have in steering the party. For too long, the NDP has allowed a small circle of party insiders to wield undue influence over party policy and subvert the will of its membership, while actively working against attempts to strengthen internal party democracy.
We call on the NDP to honour its 2018 commitment to democratize the resolution process, and to reaffirm the status of conventions as the highest governing authority of the party, by taking the following steps as soon as possible:
1. Democratize policy resolution prioritization.
The NDP’s democracy depends on listening to the will of its members. The NDP must honour the passed 2018 resolution, “Modernization and Democratization of Convention Resolution Process (7-45-18)”, that empowers all members to rank our resolution priorities in advance of the convention. Furthermore, the NDP must ensure that this system is built in the spirit of the resolution passed by the membership, by making participation in this resolution prioritization process as clear and simple as possible for all members, and taking the necessary steps to maximise membership awareness of this new process ahead of convention.
Prior to the passing of this resolution, the power to prioritize resolutions lay in the hands of the NDP’s National Director, who decided which resolutions would make it to the convention floor behind closed doors, a completely opaque process from the perspective of the party membership. This effectively shut out certain ambitious policy proposals our members wanted to debate, in favour of watered-down resolutions. With bold, progressive policies gaining the majority of the Canadian public’s support, it is now more imperative than ever that the NDP ensures the issues the membership cares most about are debated and voted on during convention.
We call upon the NDP to create an online platform that allows all members to vote on the priority of resolutions to be debated and voted upon at the 2021 convention, in accordance with the 2018 resolution, “Modernization and Democratization of Convention Resolution Process (7-45-18)”.
2. Make the 2018 policy book and all future policy books available to the public.
We are dismayed at the lack of transparency shown by the federal council by not making the up-to-date policy book publicly accessible to current and future NDP members. For democratic governance of this party to be possible, it is crucial to make the most current version of party policy, last amended during the 2018 convention, accessible to everyone. This is an urgent matter that must be rectified immediately, to give all affiliated organizations and members ample time to propose new resolutions for the 2021 convention. Going forward, this should be an automatic process whereby the NDP immediately and publicly releases an updated policy book after each convention, reflecting the changes adopted via convention resolutions.
We understand that the recently-published website for the 2021 convention includes a copy of the policy book, but it appears to be an outdated version that does not reflect the resolutions passed at the 2018 convention. Furthermore, making the policy book available on a temporary site for convention-goers does not satisfy our desire for this document to be permanently and easily available to all members and updated in a timely manner after convention.
We call upon the NDP to make the up-to-date policy book publicly accessible, and to ensure all future policy books are released to the public immediately following each convention in a permanent and easy-to-find location.
Signatory NDP Electoral District Associations
- Burnaby North
- Kitchener Centre
- Ottawa Centre
- Saint Boniface
- Spadina—Fort York
- Toronto—St. Paul’s
- Vancouver Granville
MP Matthew Green, Hamilton Centre MP Leah Gazan, Winnipeg Centre
Courage is a coalition of the independent left. They are building a pan-Canadian, membership-based organization that attempts to bridge the divide between movement and electoral politics. Specifically, they are founded on the belief that elections can be important and consequential, the left needs non-electoral organizations that are focused on pushing forward social and economic transformation—especially when left parties are in power.