UPDATE: NDP officials Thursday released the complete list of who will be making the final decisions on the leadership contest rules. Nycole Turmel, the NDP's interim leader, told The Huffington Post Canada that the executive council will meet again Thursday night to finalize the recommended proposals. As an officer she is also allowed to attend that meeting. There are two MPs on the national council, Manitoba MP Niki Ashton and Ontario Nickle Belt MP Claude Gravelle.
NDP President Brian Topp and NDP MP Peter Julian have both confirmed they will not take part in Wednesday evening's conference call with senior party executives — removing the possibility of a conflict of interest should they decide to throw their hat in the ring to replace Jack Layton as the next leader of the party.
"I think there would have been questions raised (if they participated)," said one NDP official organizing the meeting.
Julian, the MP for Burnaby, New Westminster since 2004, and Topp, the party's newly-elected president have both signaled they are considering a run at the NDP's top job. Julian, as caucus representative, is the only MP on the NDP's 20-member executive council. The body is scheduled to hold a conference call tonight to decide the rules they will suggest for the next leadership convention.
Those draft proposals could include everything from how long the race will be (the campaign lasted 234 days in 2003), where and when the leadership convention will take place (it was in Toronto last time), how much time candidates will have to sell new memberships (they had 189 days in 2003), the entrance fee they'll have to pay to be included (it was previously $7,500), the amount of money they will be allowed to spend on their leadership campaign (the cap was $500,000 in 2003) and who will get to vote. Whether it will be one member one vote or if 25 per cent of the votes will be set aside for labour groups, as was the case when Jack Layton won the leadership, will also be under discussion.
NDP officials are refusing to disclose who else is part of the executive council and who forms its larger Federal Council. There are 93 elected members on that council, 12 spots are vacant. The NDP hopes at least one third of them (that's a quorum) will show up in Ottawa Friday to vote on the official rules for the new leadership contest.
"Participation to the meetings will not be made public. 2003 rules will not be released. The new rules will be voted on Friday and will be made public after the meeting on Friday," one official told The Huffington Post Canada.
A press conference has been scheduled for 5 p.m. ET on September 9 at the Marriott hotel after the closed-door meeting has wrapped-up.
All the secrecy surrounding the process comes amid news the NDP has deleted a controversial preamble to its constitution.
Delegates at its June Convention in Vancouver hotly debated scrapping the word "socialism" from the preamble. NDP MP Pat Martin suggested the socialist label was holding the party back from forming "a modern, progressive, majority, social democratic government."
“Our anchor is fouled up on the rusted hull of some old ship that sank in the last century and is holding us back,” Martin told NDP delegates.
“I know what to do in a situation like that,” he added. “You go down below and you get the biggest broad axe you can find and you cut that anchor free.”
But support for Martin's position was far from unianimous with resounding 'boos' heard in the room.
Barry Weisleder, the chair of the party’s socialist caucus, said the move was only being contemplated to tell the Canadian establishment that the NDP wouldn't rock the boat.
It was Topp who intervened, suggesting the contentious motion to replace the preamble be referred to the federal executive for further review.
Now, it appears the NDP has decided simply to delete the preamble while new language is contemplated.