With over a year and a half to work, a new leader could have righted the ship, made this election competitive, saved the careers of dozens of MLAs and perhaps even have won government. What Greg Selinger likely counted on at the time, despite seeing these numbers, is what we saw during the last election, and what historically happens in Manitoba.
Despite my frustration around the outcome of our recent NDP convention, I'm prepared to take Avi Lewis at face value when he says that he didn't expect his Leap Manifesto to be so explosive. And I'd like to try explaining the reaction from many Alberta New Democrats so that Mr. Lewis has a better sense of the road ahead.
At the provincial level, three provinces are led by women, including Premier Rachel Notley in Alberta. Women make up 53 per cent of our province's cabinet ministers. In 2006, it was a mere 11 per cent. So, in a decade, that's progress. Federally, as in Alberta, cabinet is gender-balanced, a move that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau justified with the now oft-quoted "because it's 2015." Yet, in 2016, it must be noted that only 26 per cent of seats in the House of Commons are held by women. So, why is it that the lack of gender parity remains so pronounced in most levels of government across Canada?
The belief in a fairer and more just world, never fully prioritized by the other parties, has been the shining "city on a hill" for the NDP for decades and remains a stirring vision. It still sustains them as they move forward and Canadians still require their outlook. The question is: will it remain their principal and overriding passion or will their recent nearness to power have them seeking more power than purpose?
I'll remember the absolute grace and humility with which Tom Mulcair addressed the crowd following the vote, calling on us to leave the convention strong and united, and to focus on continuing to be the party that dreams no small dreams.
I have seen far too many supporters jump ship lately and the party that we know and love is fading into this mishmash of right and left policies, glazed over by a negative opposition tunnel vision that is getting us nowhere, fast. So please... listen to the people, build a strong platform and be the leaders this province so desperately needs.
Since NAFTA was implemented, we have realized that free trade was not just about the elimination of commercial boundaries and protectionist trade policies, but also about allowing delocalization to take place. And just as Sanders is considering to reintroduce the Glass Steagal act, the NDP should also propose to reintroduce firewalls between financial institutions.
Raising the minimum wage, diversifying Alberta's economy and supporting working people have my full support, but I'm sorry Premier Notley, I just can't get behind you on pipelines. New pipelines aren't good for the environment, they aren't good for the climate, and I'm sorry, but they aren't good for working people or good governance, either.
We can, moving forward, outline a clear vision of who we are, what we stand for, and what we can truly offer to Canadians... I want to know how we -- New Democrats -- will do better and I want these plans grounded in evidence-based policy reflective of our values. And I want for our members to chart the course of our party, not for what might be popular at the time or what might gain support in the short-term to guide our decisions.
If Tom gets dumped on Sunday, I'll join that chorus because I can't think of anything more Liberal than filling our leader's back with knives, then throwing him under the bus. We will still be left with all the structural problems Tom inherited along with a host of new ones. I believe we need to be focused on fixing our party, on democratizing the crafting of our platform, on reconnecting our movement to our party, on weaning the central campaign off our riding rebates so we can effectively build riding associations and campaigns that can compete locally with the other parties.
This weekend, the NDP is meeting in Edmonton to decide their direction moving forward. Eugene Levy once complained about filming a season of SCTV in Edmonton because "It's Edmonton." While I'm sure it's a great city, this is a party who is dreading at the Big E. The election of the past year saw an early lead blown, notable key members of the party lose their seats in the House of Commons, and a third place finish for Tom Mulcair's rookie federal election run. As the NDP head to the Gateway to the North, it's time to begin paving the highway towards the future.
The most important thing is for the NDP to not limp along and slip into irrelevance, but to boldly rebuild. Canada needs the NDP. But it needs an NDP that is both inspiring and competent, visionary and responsible, principled and practical. The many dedicated NDP activists need to know what happens now. Where is the NDP headed and how do they fit in to the big picture? What are the concrete plans to rebuild? Which brings me to the leadership question. The Leader too has to share the blame and Tom Mulcair has acknowledged this.
Anyone who signs up with the Liberals (with no membership fee involved) will have the right to take part in policy development, nomination meetings, conventions and future elections of the leader. The Conservatives have gone in the opposite direction to the Liberals with their new $25 membership fee that has to be paid by cheque or credit card. In effect the Conservatives have managed to make themselves more exclusive rather than inclusive. The Liberals have broadened their tent while the Conservatives shrank theirs. Time will tell who made the right move.
Enshrining an "equity mandate" would build on the tremendous work we have already done and make the NDP the most progressive party in the world when it comes to this issue. Trudeau certainly enjoys talking the equity talk, but by passing this motion the NDP will move miles ahead in walking the equity walk.
But it certainly appears that Premier Wynne has put out a big for sale sign by hosting high-priced private dinners for deep-pocketed insiders. Sadly, the premier has defended the indefensible by saying that corporate fundraising is part of the political process. She has attempted to justify her high-priced private dinners by claiming that everyday citizens have the same access as those ponying up $6,000 a plate. If this true, then for that price people must be getting some extra fine food. The premier and the political establishment dismiss critics of corporate fundraising by hiding behind the rules. Well, I say the rules stink.
On the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), International Trade minister Chrystia Freeland has claimed to be in "listening mode." And she says no decision has been made yet. It is widely reported that she is touring the country to hear Canadians on the TPP. But it is not clear whom she is actually consulting.