NDP convention — Saturday summary

Today, the NDP got down to business and discussed policy, policy and more policy. In fact, the difference with Liberal policy conventions and NDP policy conventions, is that at NDP policy conventions, policy is discussed.

I started following the day with interest as delegates debated building an oil pipeline from Alberta to Eastern Canada. The advantages — according to the delegates — would be that such a move would create hundreds if not thousands of jobs and it would maintain sovereignty over Canadian energy distribution as distribution channels now run through the US. The clear disadvantage? That would be a nod to the reality that Canadians consume oil and export oil from the oil sands — a sticky point to a party that ran on a moratorium on future oil sands development in the previous election. In the face of recognizing economic realities and lofty dreams, the party faithful sided with the latter firmly saying “no” to our own oil production and transport.

From there, delegates went onto women in “peace-building” (is this the same as Conservative “peacemaking” — or closer to Liberal “peacekeeping”?) The resolution carried as no controversy could be found in a feel good resolution for everyone. Then foreign aid came up and Libby Davies took the microphone to describe the conditions of the people in the Gaza strip after she had returned from… the West Bank. No mention of Israel, though one delegate found the Canada-Israel Committee’s presence at the conference “interesting”. There was some other drama as some delegates debated the highly generalized language of the foreign aid resolution which described aid to “countries”. One delegate moved to discuss aid on a case-by-case bilateral basis. There were also some procedural debates. One French-language resolution was discussed which may well have been lifted by the Bloc Quebecois mandating the use of the French-language by all Quebeckers. Further, a policy resolution on EI firmed up the party’s position closer to the 360 hour mark similarly being proposed by the Liberals.

Leo Gerard was one of the showcase speakers of the day. The president of the United Steelworkers certainly gave the best crowd-pleasing speech of the day but appealed to the worst elements of partisanship as he, at different times, called both Harper and Ignatieff “the prince of darkness” and called ideological opponents in the US healthcare debate “redneck jerkoffs”. Frankly, if the NDP is to ever be taken seriously, this sort of language is unacceptable from a showcase speaker during the convention of a mainstream political party. In fact, to emphasize the fact that the NDP is still not taken seriously, there will be little to no critical coverage of this language in the MSM tomorrow, as there would have been screaming headlines if this had occurred at a Conservative or Liberal convention.

Next, the results of the party executive elections were announced. Peggy Nash replaces Anne McGrath as president of the NDP while Rebecca Blaikie was elected treasurer. A motion was made to destroy recycle the ballots. Nash served as an MP for the NDP in the 39th parliament and then most recently as an adviser to the CAW. Blaikie is daughter of the former NDP MP and Dean of the House of Commons Bill Blaikie.

Next, Marshall Ganz — a Harvard lecturer and labour organizer — spoke to the crowd about his experience as a community organizer and as a campaign organizer for the Obama campaign. Ganz gave the most informative speech of day for assembled delegates. Though Ganz spoke about the “politics of hope”, the NDP would be better served going negative against Michael Ignatieff as the Liberal leader has left them a lot of room to maneuver on the centre-left. To stake out their place there, the NDP will have to define Ignatieff more aggressively than recent Conservative efforts did with the now famous Just Visiting ads. Particularly notable moments of culture shock were apparent from Obama speakers in their use of biblical parables to illustrate “teachable moments” at this convention. The party of prairie preacher Tommy Douglas has taken a long road eschewing social justice drawn from religious inclination to one taken from a more atheistic worldview and Obama campaigners seemed to be out-of-place making religious analogies to a largely secular party.

After Ganz, the party went back to policy debate and discussed a state-focused nuclear disarmament resolution in a “hey, remember the 80s/something happened on 9/11?” moment. As conflict has moved from cold-war area politics to one with asymmetrical non-state actors post 9/11, the NDP still seems bent on having the same “world without (US) nukes” policy discussion instead of addressing the real and present danger of global terrorism. Another striking moment came during the international policy discussion portion when NDP MP Paul Dewar (Ottawa Centre) suggested that Tamil actions in blocking traffic in Ottawa and occupying a highway in Toronto were legitimate methods for Tamils to get the attention of the Canadian government.

The keynote of the day was Betsy Myers, the COO for the Obama campaign. According to her agency website, Myers banks between $15-20k per speaking arrangement. Myers talk was relatively light and uninspiring for delegates, but involved a Q&A session hosted by NDP national campaign manager Brian Topp. During Myers speech to party faithful, union delegates were notably absent from the speech. While union organizers make up an important part of the NDP field operation, they may have been upset by the party brass importing some expensive American talent to tell delegates about the shiniest new campaign techniques.


Union delegates absent from Myers speech and Q&A

After the Myers segment, Dippers poured out to hospitality events including a Keith’s brewery tour hosted by the NDP Nova Scotia Provincial caucus, that despite just forming government in that province, only managed to bring out five MLAs to the reception. Another big event of the evening was the Charlie Angus-sponsored Canadian Private Copying Collective gathering at the Delta. Of the federal caucus, only Angus and Bruce Hyer were present (a reader writes to inform that Claude Gravelle, Carol Hughes, Malcom Allen, Glen Thibault, Brian Masse, John Rafferty, Andrea Horwath, Ken Neuman, Leo Gerrard, and Andrew Cash also showed up during the event). They were joined by Canadian artists Eva Avila of Idol fame, Chris Cummings, Teresa Ennis, and Marie Denise Pelletier. The other free event was the NDP “tweetup” on Argyle street attended by Paul Dewar, Niki Ashton, Megan Leslie and Brian Masse. The VIPs, not at the brewery tour, copyright party or tweetup, must have been gathered at the Delta for a closed-door $300 “winner’s circle” meet-and-greet with Betsy Myers where MP Olivia Chow reported that Myers said that the NDP “[gives] voice to the voiceless”. Indeed.

Despite an initial setback after the party banned one of their leading activists, the eNDProhibition movement is making its voice heard at the NDP convention and is reportedly being more shrewd than the members of the Socialist caucus who are bluntly and clumsily pushing to nationalize everything. Dana Larsen, the NDP candidate who was fired during the last campaign for being pro-drug, was similarly barred from attending the NDP convention. The advocates for marijuana are looking for any small victory for their cause such as having the resolution on psychoactive substances debated on the floor. The eNDProhibition activists were seen lobbying GLBT delegates making the argument that they too once faced discrimination within their own party (Tommy Douglas’ views on homosexuality).


Some eNDProhibition buttons seen at the convention

Tomorrow will be an interesting day as the convention closes and the NDP debates their convention-headlining moment: the possible rebranding of the party. Observers will note a blue colour has washed over the NDP website and former party communications guru Ian Capstick noted to me that orange is simply terrible on camera. During the keynote, Myers spoke against a blue backdrop complete with “Jack Layton” in large letters overtop a barely visible “NDP-NPD” sitting next to large Obama logo. The party of Layton seems dedicated to embracing the success of the new American president who is for everything from the death penalty, to nukes, to civil unions over same-sex marriage, to two-tier healthcare, to increased troop presence in Afghanistan, to free trade with Colombia, to keeping Omar Khadr locked up. Layton may be embracing the blue colour in a nod to the US Democrats who turned red states into blue states for Obama in the 2008 election. The NDP slogan “it can be done” is somewhat similar to “yes we can” but seems to be more “convincing a disbeliever” in tone rather than a collective and affirmative call to action.

If Marshall Ganz could have given one lesson to delegates it would have been that without a personal story from each and every person about why they believe in your candidate enough to work on your team, the slickest political package and most sophisticated social media operation will never win a campaign. You can fly in the top-paid political talent, but without a strong field team you’ll be spending more time convincing people that “it can be done” rather than everyone believing that “yes, we can”. This weekend, the NDP may yet illustrate that it will fail at its own expensive imported lesson.

UDPATE: The NDP will not change its name. But not for a lack of trying. The delegates were only given an hour to debate an omnibus resolution on party constitution matters. No time was left to discuss the name change. As James Moore says, “everything old is new again”.

Comments

comments

  • calgaryjunkie

    I agree that the Dippers should go more negative than we have, against Iggy. The objective being to keep soft Dippers from drifting over to the Libs in the final days of the campaign, as happened in 2004.

    So the implied message of their ads should be something like: Yes, we know you hate Harper, but do you really want this even worse torture/war loving American in his place ?

  • terry1

    It ooks as though the Libs are the only party to take an independent road in terms of emulating US political campaign styles. the Libs have chosen the technology route buying exclusive use of the third party software the dems used in their campaign.

    That's the sign of a strong pro Canada party with home made policies and no copycat crap.

  • wilson

    Dippers know what to expect from PMSH,
    but Iffy can't be trusted.
    His 'coalition if necessary but not necessarily a coaltion' was an insult to Dippers.

  • wilson

    Dippers want all those 'borrowed' votes back from the Libs,
    and they can't do that by attacking the Cons.

  • Bruce

    “It looks as though the Libs are the only party to take an independent road in terms of emulating US political campaign styles. the Libs have chosen the technology route buying exclusive use of the third party software the dems used in their campaign.”

    You've been into the Kool Aid again I see.

  • terry1

    wilson,you are correct…they know what to expect from Harpo……….lies and more lies and more deficits. Hell, the dippers are even jealous. Those kinds of deficits are their trade in stock and Harpo has moved left of them even.

  • terry1

    wilson, it shows what you don't know……….the dippers borrowed votes from the libs last election and itis the dippers who are in the squeezer. The greens could wipe them out if they ever catch on.

  • terry1

    Brucey, nope. I drink green tea and strong coffee only. What's your excuse.

  • terry1

    stephen comment:
    “In fact, the difference with Liberal policy conventions and NDP policy conventions, is that at NDP policy conventions, policy is discussed.”

    …………………………………

    Ideologues like to lock in their policies and have no give. The Libs understnad things change in life and have a philosophy rather than fixed ideas that may or may not be relevant. You own party should learn from the Libs as well instead of getting locked into making up the lies they do.

  • terry1

    From Betsy Meyer's speech at the dipper convention:
    “People want a leader who’s not going to lie to them. Obama is willing to admit when he doesn’t have something totally figured out,” she said. “What the world is demanding today is . . . authenticity. They catch you if you’re lying.”
    ………………………………………………….
    That statement alone should be enough to put Harpo in fourth place as he lies more than any other politician in the world.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    “Individuals can donate up to $2,300 to a candidate in the U.S.”
    ……………………………………….
    And we have that lousy $1000 limitation put in place by harpo in an attempt to cripple the Libs
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    “The Obama campaign received more than 90 per cent of its donations via the Internet, much of that from people donating as little as $5 or $10, but doing it over and over again, as they continued to get email from the campaign. The number of email addresses collected by the Obama campaign eventually topped 13 million, and the White House now uses that list to tell people when the president will visit their city, for example.”
    …………………………………………………….
    The Libs are well underway in getting internet donations and way ahead of the other parties.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Layton is pushing for a Liberal victory:
    “We don’t agree on everything. . . . But I think it would be fair to say that it’s been good for the world that we have a new administration and direction in Washington, and we’d like to see a new direction here in Canada.”

  • east of eden

    “the Libs have chosen the technology route buying exclusive use of the third party software the dems used in their campaign” – exactly how is that not a copycat move? And, how, exactly, is this the sign of a pro-Canada party? A bit of a long stretch, Ter-Ber.

  • east of eden

    “Layton is pushing for a Liberal victory:
    “We don’t agree on everything. . . . But I think it would be fair to say that it’s been good for the world that we have a new administration and direction in Washington, and we’d like to see a new direction here in Canada.”

    Wow – that is the biggest stretch I've ever seen. The straws for which you are grabbing don't even exist.

  • terry1

    E of E, you will go to any illogical means to run down a Liberal. That's the real weakness.

    Third party software is not party specific and the Libs needed to reinvigorate their fund raising. In their search for new technology this stood out. They also looked at software used by the one of the German parties.

    The Pro Canada bit, for your dim witted mind, is the fact the Libs are the only party to design their own platform and not use either of the two US parties as their model. That's how they have been in power 33 out of the last 46 years, almost all in majority governments.

  • terry1

    I knew a dim wit would pick that up and think I was serious. You win the prize.

  • Parnella

    No you didn't know a “dim wit” would pick that up and think it was serious”. You were serious until you read what you wrote, decided to disown it.

    Are you going to own this as fact: “the Libs are well underway getting internet donations and way ahead of the other parties”? How do you know that? Is that straight from the Kinsella bunker?

    Why do you persist in calling people names like “dim wit” ? What does it do to raise the tone of debate which this is all about? We won't agree on much politically but for God's sake, grow up.

  • east of eden

    To quote our friend, Gayle: snort. Nice try, though.

  • east of eden

    You were serious but since I called you on it, you made up this crack about only dimwits taking it seriously. To quote your friend Gayle: snort. Nice try, though.

    BTW – any comment you make that contains any sort of derogatory remark is instantly rendered useless. You are not capable of making a coherent statement which contains logic and actual information without including something derogatory. I would say that it is an indication of a creature who is dim-witted.

  • east of eden

    Well, one of the very scarce truths which Gayle promulgated is the fact that when somebody resorts to a personal attack, it means that the person has nothing meaningful to add. Gayle, on Janke's blog, is launching all sorts of personal attacks, just like her buddy Terri1.

  • terry1

    fact is you really don't want to discuss the issue of ideological purity the two left and right wing parties are cast in.

    The dippers and the reformatorts are both ideologues and that was the real point made. The libs have real issues they deal with which have made them the most successful party in Canada.

  • terry1

    Spermella,

    So you are now inside my brain and deciding what I was saying. Thats genius!!!!

    I will own the fact that the Libs are moving forward quickly in making internet donations the way of the future.

    I persist because there are facts involved in my use of colourful language to describe people. Its a shame so you are so uptight. Get a larger size pair of underwear and you'll feel less anguish.

  • Parnella

    I'm shocked you'd be so bold as to suggest what size underwear I should get or what that has to do with the NDP convention. Not surprised at the depths of depravity a desperate Liberal apologist would go though.

    “Spermella”? Another clue as to where your mind is. You really should be reined in before it's too late.

  • terry1

    You've once again proven you are simpy an angry white reformatory with nothing to say about anything in particular. Its amazing how you can't stand any levity, then again I pinch myself and say he/she's a reformatort.

    Life is too short to be that serious!!!!! lighten up and become a Liberal

  • Parnella

    You re right about “Gayle”. She reminds me of a cat who purrs and snuggles then scratches and bites. She apparently cannot sustain civil debate without sooner or later putting in her claws. Nasty dame in anyone's books.

    Terry just needs to grow up, graduate from the playground. I'm surprised he's allowed to insult people to the extent he does here.

  • terry1

    If what you call your holier than thou approach as “grown up” then please let me be young and full of vigor with lots to learn.

  • http://cameronholmstrom.blogspot.com/ Northwestern_Lad

    Stephen, to your comment in regards to Mr. Angus’s event is sadly misinformed. As someone who was there in the flesh, I can tell you that not just Mr. Angus and Mr. Hyer were there, but also there were Claude Gravelle, Carol Hughes, Malcom Allen, Glen Thibault, Brian Masse, John Rafferty, Ontario Leader Andrea Horwath, Ken Neuman, Steelworkers International President Leo Gerrard, Andrew Cash. On top of that a number of MLAs from Nova Scotia, BC and Manitoba.

    I also attended the Tweet-up and I can tell you straight away that again your numbers are off. Including Mr. Dewar, Niki Ashton, Megan Leslie and Brian Masse again… the man got around.

  • http://cameronholmstrom.blogspot.com/ Northwestern_Lad

    Stephen, to your comment in regards to Mr. Angus’s event is sadly misinformed. As someone who was there in the flesh, I can tell you that not just Mr. Angus and Mr. Hyer were there, but also there were Claude Gravelle, Carol Hughes, Malcom Allen, Glen Thibault, Brian Masse, John Rafferty, Ontario Leader Andrea Horwath, Ken Neuman, Steelworkers International President Leo Gerrard, Andrew Cash. On top of that a number of MLAs from Nova Scotia, BC and Manitoba.

    I also attended the Tweet-up and I can tell you straight away that again your numbers are off. Including Mr. Dewar, Niki Ashton, Megan Leslie and Brian Masse again… the man got around.

  • http://cameronholmstrom.blogspot.com/ Northwestern_Lad

    Stephen, to your comment in regards to Mr. Angus’s event is sadly misinformed. As someone who was there in the flesh, I can tell you that not just Mr. Angus and Mr. Hyer were there, but also there were Claude Gravelle, Carol Hughes, Malcom Allen, Glen Thibault, Brian Masse, John Rafferty, Ontario Leader Andrea Horwath, Ken Neuman, Steelworkers International President Leo Gerrard, Andrew Cash. On top of that a number of MLAs from Nova Scotia, BC and Manitoba.

    I also attended the Tweet-up and I can tell you straight away that again your numbers are off. Including Mr. Dewar, Niki Ashton, Megan Leslie and Brian Masse again… the man got around.

  • Bruce

    Gayle/Terry=no life troll

  • Parnella

    You are even assuming me to be white. Appears to right up there with assuming I need larger underwear.

    Get help, get it now! Realize in trying to be funny ha, ha, you're becoming funny strange.

    This thread is done, the NDP convention is of no consequence to anything of particular importance to the grand scheme of things.

  • Parnella

    BTW, “everything old is new again”, clever remark by one of our clever young guns, James Moore.

    Saw a nice pic of his dog, “Jed”, a Bernese Mountain Dog. We have a Berner in the family and they are smarter than the average Liberal troll.

  • terry1

    I could have said white/??? and you would have called me a rascist. The issue I brought up was ideology and you obviously couldn't get your head around it since you find it more important to make a miss manners out of me.

    You won't get there. I come from the Stephen Harpo school of attack and don't need nicities since our PM deosn't bother with them either. Just trying to communicate on a level that reformatorts seem to support. Obviously liberals are not permitted to speak that way since nastiness appears to be IP of the reformatorts.

  • east of eden

    Sorry – Gayle has done no such thing. Nice try. Snort.

  • east of eden

    We don't wish to discuss it with YOU. There is a difference.

  • east of eden

    Terri is fixated on male genatalia and all that is involved with it. I think there is something like a fetish there.

  • justinling

    Let me just begin by saying that this is a great, albeit unabashedly biased, article and it has the virtue of explaining the nuances of the convention better than the uninterested media can. They were so bored, perhaps rightfully so, that they misunderstood some of the convention procedure that you seem to grasp.

    I feel, though, that I must make a few nit-picky corrections. First off, I was the delegate that 'moved to discuss aid on a case-by-case bilateral basis.' It wasn't quite as dramatic as you described, as some of us simply wanted to outline a strategy rather than passing rhetoric. And, may I add, the resolution passed unanimously when a list of improvised African nations were tagged onto the resolution.

    Secondly, those 'delegates' who talked in favour of the oil pipeline were union plants who would have a vested interest in seeing such a thing built. I was one who stood at the 'con' mic to lash out against such an insane proposal (though, in the end, I allowed other to go ahead. One was Gary Doer's trade minister.) It ended up being soundly defeated, with only around 20 people supporting it.

  • Parnella

    Did you go to the same Liberal troll school as this infamous “Gayle” dame? Just assuming it's a dame. Maybe you could get together and form half a brain.

    Sorry for being off topic , but what's left, the NDP love-in is over, nothing left but dealing with the rolling insults by the resident troll.

  • terry1

    The “Dirty Tories” strike again:
    PMO Iqaluit gaffe draws smiles, frowns
    (Harper-Iqaluit-Gaffe)
    Source: The Canadian Press
    Aug 18, 2009 11:09

    OTTAWA – An unfortunate blunder by the Prime Minister's Office has residents of Nunavut alternately chuckling and cringing.

    A news release sent out Monday outlined Prime Minister Stephen Harper's itinerary as he began a five-day tour of the North.

    The release repeatedly spelled the capital of Nunavut as Iqualuit – rather than Iqaluit.

    The extra `u' makes a world of difference in the Inuktitut language.

    Iqaluit, properly spelled, means `many fish.'

    Spelled with an extra `u,' the Nunavut language commissioner's office says the word translates as a derogatory reference to `people with unwiped bums.'

    (The Canadian Press)

  • terry1

    Duplicate