NDP Ridings Push For Leap Manifesto Ahead Of Party Convention

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OTTAWA — As the NDP mulls over its disastrous election outcome, more than a dozen ridings are urging the party to embrace a plan for dramatic change at the party convention in April.

The Leap Manifesto offers a number of recommendations, including a proposal to wean the country off fossil fuels to address climate change.

The document — which has a wide range of supporters, including actors, labour unions and environmentalists — was unveiled in September during the election campaign.

At the time of its release, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair did not endorse it, but he said he welcomed new ideas and understood it reflected a desire for change.

"Canadians want change in Ottawa and I love the debates of ideas," he said at the time.

thomas mulcair
NDP leader Thomas Mulcair speaks at a campaign rally in London, Ontario Oct.4, 2015. (Photo: GEOFF ROBINS/AFP/Getty Images)

"We're going to bring in overarching sustainable development legislation. We'll see clear targets. We'll start working with the world and stop working against the planet."

Avi Lewis, one of the key drivers behind the manifesto, said he finds it interesting that an NDP post-election working group has noted the party projected an image of "cautious change" during the campaign.

In a memo to supporters on Tuesday, NDP President Rebecca Blaikie noted many rank-and-file members believe this approach was out of sync with voters' desire for a sharp break from the Conservatives.

Mulcair issued his own letter on Wednesday acknowledging the report provides a convincing summary of specific lapses in the campaign's preparation and execution.

"As leader, I take full responsibility for these shortcomings," Mulcair said. "I could have done a better job."

Lewis says there is nothing cautious about kinds of changes proposed in the Leap Manifesto and its vision of a post-carbon economy.

"I think it is really interesting in the context of these NDP activists that are moving resolutions about the Leap Manifesto forward, in that it seems to be in sync with what the leader is saying."

"As leader, I take full responsibility for these shortcomings."

Climate and inequality are increasingly part of the global conversation, he added, noting Sen. Bernie Sanders's U.S. presidential campaign.

"It is absolutely stunning that the word socialism is being used daily in the United States and we are talking about a vision of citizens pushing governments to take policy decisions that will build the next economy and the next energy system.

"That's where the momentum is. So I think it is understandable that people are seeking it."

In the coming weeks, a committee of the NDP's federal council will prioritize hundreds of resolutions submitted by party riding associations and commissions, said party national director Karl Belanger.

"Delegates will be asked to participate in panels to discuss and amend the committee's recommendations before the resolutions are brought on the convention floor," he said.

New Democrats are to meet at the convention in Edmonton April 8-10.

Mulcair will also face a leadership vote during the event that will determine his future.

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