Think Forward BC NDP Draft #5

Think Forward BC NDP

August 20, 2009 draft, version 5

Endorsed by the Vancouver-Kensington Constituency Association

Today, the BC NDP has an opportunity to be more assertive in building a more effective, functional and relevant party for our members and our communities, ensuring representation at all levels of the party, including MLAs and candidates, reflects the full diversity of the province we live in. As the Liberal government’s policies increasingly harm the majority of British Columbians, we must transform our desire for internal improvement into a strategy for meaningful change for the people of BC, starting now. This process must be democratic and transparent to party members and the public at large.

1. We must enhance democracy inside the party:

– Progressive politics is about accountability and transparency throughout the party to build trust and commitment between members and the elements of the party: constituencies (executives, MLAs, candidates, members, non-members), the provincial party (convention, party policies defined by convention, provincial council, the provincial executive, the table officers, staff), and caucus (leader, MLAs, staff).

The Goal: more regular communication needs to take place from caucus and the executive to provincial councils, constituencies and members to increase transparency and accountability.

2. We must follow and implement party values:

– All elements of the party need to be grounded in party policies developed by convention. Lower voter turnout and our base not showing up to volunteer reflect our actions drifting away from our beliefs.

The Goal: all constituency, caucus and provincial office activities must reflect and advance party beliefs and goals endorsed by convention, which must be available to party members.

3. We must empower members and non-members:

– We must build and fund an organization in the party (a) to educate current and new members and non-members about who we are and what we believe, (b) to consult members more and increase their role in decision-making, and (c) to develop their capacity to be more involved in pursuing social, economic and political justice in the community, province and country. Treating members like donors who merely allow “professionals” to do the work of democracy is bad for democracy.

The Goal: we must strengthen the role of constituencies to create a political movement that people want to belong to because it respects, values and includes them.

4. We must improve our relationship with labour and other groups:

–  The NDP has a long tradition of pursuing progressive goals with union members and working people. Confronting oppression, discrimination, economic turmoil, energy crises and climate change requires unions, workers and the party to actively cooperate, along with other progressive organizations.

The Goal: we must fix and improve the party’s relationship with labour and working people, and expand our cooperation with other progressive organizations.

5. We must build a social movement within the party:

– The NDP represents the needs, interests, aspirations and values of most British Columbians. The party needs to be the vehicle that pursues gender, race, class, social, economic and political justice, not just at the next election but every day.

The Goal: we must develop our members’ strengths and capacities to make a difference in our communities and show all citizens that the NDP is the party to promote people’s interests.


12 responses to “Think Forward BC NDP Draft #5

  1. Pingback: Think Forward BC NDP Invitation « Think Forward BC NDP

  2. Much of this I like. We have become distant or aloof from our members.
    Our priority must be to engage members as well as raise money. For too long members have been limited to being only supporters.

  3. Thanks, Rick!

    I’m glad there’s some resonance here for you!

    Any suggestions on improving parts that aren’t as powerful for you?


  4. Greetings,

    While I rejoice, just a tad, at an actual constituency tackling what is seen by many of us as a HUGE democratic deficit in OUR Party, I am also somewhat dubious.

    No where do you talk about the constitution being trampled on by those elected in Head Office time and time again!

    No where do you talk about the “power” takeover by evidence of which has been the slow creep of power from the Provincial Council to which it belongs, into the hands of the Table Officers. This reversal of power has been accompanied by an insularity among those officers that has resulted, as it always does, in the inability for those with the power to make decisions connected with any reality but their own.

    No where do you talk about Table Officers that believe in democracy, Council members that hold them to it, and an Oversight Committee that does its job.

    I question whether this is just another attempt to address those of us out here who are so dismayed by what has become of our Party with small tid bits of “somethings” that in the end mean nothing.

  5. Hi Juner,

    I respect your dubiousness. Speaking personally, I was well beyond dubious for months after the election. I found my way out of that pit through trying to build something new and positive.

    Speaking also personally, as a member of a riding executive, the party and the last election campaign were like watching something happening while standing on Mars looking through a telescope.

    What I know about what is wrong with the party and campaign is wildly overshadowed by what I don’t know about what needs to be fixed. So I’ve been working to define what kind of party I want to belong to.

    Through this process, it will become apparent many what things are wrong.

    You touch on many specific things that I’ve been hearing from various people.

    Words in the first point of our document speak about democracy, accountability and transparency. Then in the second point we write about being based in our sanctioned values and policies.

    These ideas speak broadly to what you see as missing from our document. We’re finishing and soon releasing the next draft of this document, which will remain largely principle-based, not action-based. We’re also soon to release an action plan with concrete ideas for change.

    Writing a document and making provincial council members do a sufficient job of holding leaders accountable are separate things. I’m expecting the people to be in charge after convention to be perhaps more motivated to do that.

    I have no interested in addressing dismayed folks to appease them with no ultimate action. I see no value in belonging to a party that cannot function better, nor should anyone else.

  6. Hi Stephen and thanks for taking the time to write, even though I am still somewhat dubious at “expecting the people to be in charge after Convention to be perhaps more motivated to do that”!! We can no longer leave it up to “perhaps being motivated” if we are talking about accountability to the members rights. The Constitution needs to be strengthened to put the power base where it once was to avoid the kind of disaster that occurred with this last campaign.

    In addition to all of this….unless the Party STOPS scripting it’s Leaders appearances with carefully asking SOME people to get up to the mics to ask questions that are also scripted, and unless this Party begins consulting those of us in our communities who are the activists in everyway possible and do know what our communtieis need, then I will remain an unahappy camper who has already pulled her monthly contributions both provincially and federally! I do NOT want to have to also pull my membership….but make no mistake…that will happen if I do not see MANY changes occurring at this next convention! Lastly, what needs to be remembered by “the old guard”, I am not alone out here! There are many who feel as I do!

    • Hi Juner,

      You’re welcome for the reply.

      I think I was a little too subtle with saying I expect people in charge to be more motivated. In spreading these ideas around, the idea is that we will require those in charge to be more motivated. I’d love to hear all kinds of ideas about how to accomplish that.

      True, there are lots of unhappy campers who feel not consulted and fully neglected around the province. Discussing party reform is a good step for people to exercise involvement, with the goal of making sure that after convention the party is more responsive to its members. That’s what got me going on this.

  7. Hello

    Could you expand on your ideas for strengthening the party’s relationship to trade unions? Do you mean returning to a more formal relationship or something else?

    • Thanks, James!

      Lots of people have share ideas about the relationship between labour, unionized workers, non-unionized workers and the NDP.

      There are lots of opinions about what those relationships should be, what they have been, what is wrong with them now, what isn’t wrong and how to go about addressing it all.

      I think there are many threads connecting all those groups, but some of the connections are strained. I’m not sure working people are being as effectively mobilized and inspired by/for the party as they could be, just as party members are not involved to the best degree.

      Addressing the level of formality of a relationships between unions and the party can be one issue that deserves discussing, as is the relationships between union members and the party, and non-union workers and the party.

      I can envision far richer relationships all around.

      I hope Think Forward BC NDP can inspire and facilitate a dialogue within the party and between the party and all things labour…just like the comments on this page.

      I think you can take part in that by sharing the document with others, discussing the state of the relationships, figuring out where they ought to be and how to get there, then sharing that here and elsewhere.

      And watch here for document updates in the next few days, reflecting lots of great suggestions for improvement. I think you’ll see the next draft really enhancing some of the ideas here already.

  8. The NDP needs an “extreme makeover” but this cannot happen by getting into bed even more with organized labour. Remembering that 50% of voters were not inspired enough by the party choices to come out and vote in 2009, it is clear that the NDP must broaden its base to win in 2013. Developing and advocating progressive policies for consumer protection and support for functional families would be a major step in this direction.

    • Thanks, Deryk!

      What kinds of things do you see as problems with increasing the party’s ties to organized labour?

      I think there are lots of reasons why voter turnout dropped, some may have something to do with the party’s relationship with labour, many more may be about where the party was at. It’s also possible that a weakened relationship with labour meant less mobilization of NDP voters, which contributed to a lower voter turnout.

      Which groups do you think the party must broaden its base to for winning in 2013? Lots of people think we lost this year because we tried to be too many things to too many people.

      Consumer protection and enhancing families sound like fantastic policy areas the party could expand on.

      Now that the MLAs have their critic portfolios, we can contact them and work with them to expand and improve our policies in those areas.

  9. Pingback: Think Forward BC NDP Invitation [September 19, 2009] | Think Forward BC NDP

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