Home / Canada / NDP gears up for first national convention under Jagmeet Singh’s leadership

NDP gears up for first national convention under Jagmeet Singh’s leadership

OTTAWA— Hundreds of New Democrats are flocking to the capital this week for a national convention that will feature a vote on Jagmeet Singh’s still-new leadership and a host of policy debates that could stir up divisions in the NDP fold.
Beginning Friday morning, party members will hear speeches and vote policy resolutions that run the gamut from endorsing high speed rail to recognizing the “historic mistake” of enacting the 1982 Constitution without Quebec’s signature.
Singh predicted Wednesday that “inequality” will be a key theme of the weekend, highlighting his calls for the Liberal government to act on NDP proposals in the upcoming federal budget. These include his demands to crack down on tax havens, raise capital gains taxes, and close the so-called stock option loophole — moves Singh says could bring in billions of dollars to create a national pharmacare program, among other services.
But Singh said he welcomes discussions on a wide range of proposals slated to be brought forward at the convention, such as resolutions on French language laws, the party’s stance on the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, and the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion that has divided branches of the NDP in Alberta and British Columbia.
“There (are) going to be healthy discussions and I welcome them. But I think the party is very much united around these two principles: the importance of the environment, the importance of the economy,” Singh said when asked about the pipeline feud.
“Conventions are an opportunity to have great discussions about issues and I look forward to that.”
The convention also comes as the party has been rocked by allegations of inappropriate conduct involving two federal politicians. Singh said Wednesday that an investigation continues into unspecified allegations of inappropriate conduct involving Saskatchewan MP Erin Weir, while an internal review is underway in response to allegations of sexual misconduct against Peter Stoffer, a longtime former MP from Nova Scotia.
Singh is scheduled to deliver a keynote address to an expected 1,800 delegates Saturday afternoon. After his speech, members will vote on Singh’s leadership, a routine convention procedure that saw his predecessor Tom Mulcair agree to step down after receiving just 48 per cent support from delegates at the 2016 party get-together in Edmonton.
Singh would not say Wednesday if he thinks he should attain a specific threshold of support in the vote. It was barely four months ago that he won the four-way NDP leadership race with a majority showing on the first ballot.
“I haven’t really thought of a number but I’m confident that I’ll receive the support of the membership,” he said.
While many of the policy resolutions submitted by members echo measures Singh already supports — such as proposals to decriminalize all drugs and push for electoral reform — there are grumblings from some corners of the NDP.
Yazan Khader is a member of the Courage Coalition, a group he says is made up of hundreds of activists whose goal is to give “grassroots” NDP members more influence over the party’s policies. In an interview Wednesday, Khader said many in the coalition feel that certain priorities perceived to be unpalatable to the party leadership will be buried and put aside when it comes time for debate at the convention.
He said these include the resolutions to support the elimination of post-secondary tuition in Canada, and block the import of goods that are manufactured in settlements such as the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since 1967.
“Clearly, there’s a hunger among members for a strong, principled stance, whether that’s for workers rights, human rights, Indigenous rights — or even when it comes to foreign policy. And yet there’s a bit of reluctance on the part of the leadership,” Khader said.
There are also resolutions slated for debate that strike at the heart of the NDP’s family feud over the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, including one that calls on the party to explicitly oppose the $7.4-billion project.
Others call for the party to formally adopt the Leap Manifesto, a list of principles to transform the economy and shift away from fossil fuels that became a lightning rod for controversy at the NDP convention in 2016.
Avi Lewis, one of the Leap Manifesto authors, said Wednesday that the treatise contains precisely the type of bold ideas that could provoke a wellspring of support for a social democratic party like the NDP. Indeed, that is why he is hosting an event in Ottawa Thursday — organized by Leap and Khader’s Courage Coalition — where key advisers to American Sen. Bernie Sanders and U.K. Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn will speak about their campaign strategies.
“The terrain seems incredibly fruitful for a party that can step up with the kinds of demands that we’ve been talking about,” Lewis said.
“We absolutely want to influence the new leader.”

About admin

Check Also

Canada to not recognise results of Punjab 2020 Referendum organised by SFJ

Canada to not recognise results of Punjab 2020 Referendum organised by SFJ

Responding to queries from Hindustan Times about Canadian Government’s stand on the referendum scheduled for …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *