It may be billed as an insane political convention, but New Democrats hope the next three days will show their party is ready for a possible election in the spring or summer.
Over the next three days, past and current leaders from across the country will virtually address attendees and more than 2,000 delegates will vote on resolutions designed to chart the future course of the NDP.
Party leader Jagmeet Singh takes center stage on Sunday to advance the NDP’s vision for a post-pandemic Canada. This is Singh’s second political convention and his first appearance at the convention as a campaign leader who has managed to outgrow his weight in an overcrowded minority parliament.
“We want to show Canadians that we fought for Canadians when times were tough and people needed help,” Singh said Power and politics welcomes Vassy Kapelos on Thursday.
“Whether it was paid sick leave or helping students directly, the Liberals did not have this on their agenda. We fought for it and we won to give people the help they needed.
Singh welcomes the federal government’s decision to increase the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (SCAR) and the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit.
It’s a strategy former NDP campaign manager Brad Lavigne said the party should have. It signals to voters, he said, what the country’s first NDP federal government would look like.
“You have to translate your record,” Lavigne said. “(Promote) all the great things you’ve been able to accomplish, then pivot to say, ‘Now look what we could do if we had the chance to rule.’
For the next election campaign, the NDP is preparing to spend double what it did in 2019 – just under $ 12 million. This year the party says it can spend what it did in the last campaign on advertising only because it paid its multi-million dollar debt.
With the party still in third place UKTN Polls Tracking, Singh will face his second management review on Sunday. At his first convention 2018, Singh passed by 91% of the votes.
The socialist wing fights for power
But activists within the NDP see the convention as a chance to pull the party away from the comfortable center and return to its working-class roots.
Political action groups like Courage – which describes itself as “an independent left coalition” – have used the convention resolution process to push forward proposals that mainstream parties – and even NDP MPs – have either neglected to adopt or rejected entirely.
“We already have a liberal party in this country. We don’t need another,” said Emily Quaile, member of the Courage coalition. “So what we’re trying to do is really identify where we can go a little different and progressive.”
Courage is pushing to dissolve the RCMP and abolish billionaires through a wealth tax. He wants to use the funds raised by this tax to finance wireless and Internet access, free public transit and drug insurance.
With hundreds of resolutions on the table, it’s unclear whether there is enough time for all of them to get to the virtual convention floor.
But the socialists within the party are waging the battle on several fronts and presenting a list of candidates for the federal party council.
“It’s not just a question of slogans and resolutions, but a whole layer of people who are ready to carry out these policies and ready to run as candidates,” said Barry Weisleder, chairman of the unofficial NDP socialist caucus.