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article imageOp-Ed: 92.3% of NDP delegates support Mulcair's leadership

By Ken Hanly     Apr 13, 2013 in Politics
Montreal - Thomas Mulcair, the leader of the federal New Democratic Party in Canada, gave a speech meant to attract middle class voters after delegates voted 92.3% against holding a leadership convention which would have challenged his leadership.
Mulcair mentioned income inequality several times in his speech, as well as Conservative cuts to Old Age Security and Employment Insurance, as well as health care. Mulcair said: "Every day I hear from Canadians who know what it's like to be on the outside, looking in. There's no place for them in [Prime Minister] Stephen Harper's Canada."
Claiming that Canada was a wonderful and progressive country at heart, Mulcair said that Canadians understand that "we are all better off when we take care of one another — when we lift each other up."
No doubt to please old timers in the party, Mulcair traced the roots of the NDP in the CCF mentioning Tommy Douglas, and then the NDP and Jack Layton the last leader of the NDP. Mulcair is a former member of the Quebec Liberal Party and a former cabinet minister in the provincial government.
Delegates debated social and environmental policies today (March 13). The convention managed to avoid a vote on a motion to decriminalize sex work. It was referred to the federal council. However, a motion to support proportional representation did pass. Where there have been referenda in Canada on this issue they have not passed.
Motions were passed supporting supply management in the dairy, egg, and poultry sectors, reaffirming the NDP commitment to collective bargaining and pay equity. The socialist caucus, as usual, managed to upset the establishment.
On Friday, they voiced concern over the use of American Democrats as speakers. On Saturday they were forced to take down a banner condemning Obama's use of drones in Pakistan with which they greeted arriving delegates. There will be a debate tomorrow about removing the word "socialist" from the preamble to the party constitution.
John Ornett, a spokesperson for the group, said that the US is killing innocent civilians and violating Pakistan's airspace with the drone attacks,. Ornett also criticized party officials for hosting "speakers highly favorable to the Democratic Party in the United States."
Jeremy Bird, Obama's national field director in 2012 spoke today and Joseph Stiglitz, an economist and adviser to Bill Clinton spoke on Friday. Ornett said:"We're a labour party. The Democratic Party of the United States is a party of Wall Street. It's a party of the war machine. We're proud members of the NDP and come election time we call for an unequivocal vote, we totally support the NDP and we totally want Tom Mulcair to become the next prime minister of Canada."
When the NDP was formed it is true that a lot of those behind the move such as David Lewis wanted to model the NDP on the UK Labour Party. However, under leaders such as Tony Blair the Labour Party turned far to the right to undercut the late Margaret Thatcher. Ornett said of his protest banner: "We thought our point was already made. Not a lot of harm was done. There wasn't a lot of inconvenience and we didn't want to create a lot of inconvenience, so we went along with their wishes and put it away."
Socialist delegate Barry Weisleder said that the hour given to a speech by Jeremy Bird could have been devoted to discussing policy. Delegates meet only every two years and then only set an hour for discussion of subjects as broad as the economy or the environment. Panels, closed to reporters, decide before the convention which 10 to 12 resolutions on each subject will reach the convention floor. Weisleder's motions were voted down on Friday and on Saturday a resolution to bring forth an anti-pipeline motion for debate was also voted down. There will no doubt be more conflict tomorrow when the convention votes on amending the preamble to the NDP constitution. The term "socialist" actually remains in the preamble but only as part of the history of the NDP.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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