The provincial New Democrats could abandon a divisive affirmative action policy that saw 20 ridings reserved for women and minority candidates. The policy was approved at the party's 2007 convention. But it came with an expiration date: the 2009 election campaign. During the election, then party spokesman David Bieber told The Province's Damian Inwood, "It's certainly something we think has worked out quite well. We're certainly pleased."
Nevertheless, the New Democrats had always intended to review that policy following the campaign - a process that's presently being undertaken by an oversight committee, according to party president Sav Dhaliwal.
And, as part of the review, Mr. Dhaliwal said the committee is surveying affirmative action constituency associations and candidates to "see how they felt about [the policy] and if they would like us to continue."
The party executive is expected to deliberate the committee's findings and recommendations in mid-September. The matter will then be discussed at the New Democrats' November convention.
"We can't just let it expire and not talk about it because we went through a lot of work and we at least wanted to share the experience with the delegates," explained Mr. Dhaliwal.
The party president said the committee could recommend scrapping the present affirmative action system or it could "come back with an equity mandate strategy [for 2013] that's exactly the same or some variation of it."
In the last election, 42 of the New Democrats' 85 candidates were women.
By comparison, the Liberals had 25 women.