03/30/2016 02:34 EDT | Updated 03/31/2017 05:12 EDT

Let's Make The NDP Convention About Equity

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Voting concept - Ballot box painted into national flag colors - Canada

The airwaves are buzzing about the upcoming NDP Convention coming to Edmonton this April 8-10. Where the media is obsessed with whether Mulcair will survive his leadership review, I am much more focused on a proposed party constitutional change aimed at ensuring the NDP's candidate selection processes are forever equitable. 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.


The NDP Constitution formally recognizes five equity seeking groups. This recognition was an important first step as it moved party officials to increase their efforts to recruit candidates from these groups. And we've done pretty well! Preliminary statistics show our 2015 candidate pool was comprised of the following candidates:

  • Indigenous People (six per cent)
  • Visible Minorities (17 per cent)
  • People with Disabilities (three per cent)
  • Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Community Members (three per cent)
  • Women (43 per cent)

The other parties don't even bother tracking these stats; perhaps, because they are ashamed at how badly they would fare if they were ever made public. Our 2015 statistics show we have something of which to be proud of in terms of taking real steps to ensure our candidates truly reflect Canada. Now we need to take the next step and ensure we have truly reflective candidate pools in each and every future election by adding an equity mandate to our constitution.

The April convention is our first chance to chart a new path forward for the NDP as we move toward the 2019 election.

Brought forward by the Burnaby South Electoral District Association, the proposed equity mandate reads as follows:

BE IT RESOLVED that ARTICLE XV of the Constitution be amended by adding "3. The pool of candidates selected to stand in the 2019 and each General Election thereafter must contain a proportion of (a) Indigenous Peoples; (b) Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Community Members; (c) People with Disabilities; (d) Visible Minority Community Members; and, (e) Women; equal to each of these named groups' proportion of Canada's population subject to an allowed variance of up to ten per cent of each named groups' proportion of the total population when used as a base."

This proposed amendment does not instruct party officials as to how to select their candidates in particular seats, but rather establishes overall required goals while providing flexibility to account for challenging and varying conditions that come along in every election. These new rules would ensure, for example, at least 45 per cent of NDP candidates are women -- a proportion determined by using women's 50 per cent proportion of the population as a base score, multiplying this base score by 10 percent (50x10 per cent = five per cent), then subtracting this result from the initial proportion of the population (50 per cent -- five per cent =45 per cent). The same required proportions for the remaining four equity seeking groups would be determined by party officials before each election.

The April convention is our first chance to chart a new path forward for the NDP as we move toward the 2019 election. We need to show Canadians who we are, why we are different from the other parties and why they should vote for us in 2019. We also need to raise the bar for the others parties when it comes to championing progressive issues. The equity mandate would be a great banner to fly in future elections. I hope you'll show your support by voting "yes" for equity (and wearing a purple button) if you are coming to the NDP convention. Even if you aren't coming, drop me a note on facebook or tweet to show you're a supporter.

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