Democracy at work

Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald is among those concerned discussions about party leadership, as well as Cariboo North MLA Bob Simpson's expulsion from caucus, will be sidelined during this weekend's New Democrat provincial council meeting. At that meeting, party officials are scheduled to debate constituency association resolutions proposing a leadership convention in 2011 and Mr. Simpson's reinstatement. But that debate is taking place just 90 minutes before council adjourns on Saturday. Indeed, in an unusual move, their meeting won't get underway until the afternoon to allow for a four-and-a-half hour morning policy development session. And that doesn't sit well with Mr. Macdonald. In an internal email exclusively obtained by Public Eye, he stated it was crucial for the New Democrats to "consistently model behaviour that amplifies democracy" in light of "ongoing attempts by the BC Liberal government to stifle debate, and to lessen the effectiveness of democracy within our Legislative system."

As a result, the former caucus chair went on to urge party executives to "put forward a real agenda; an agenda that begins in the morning with allowing Provincial Council delegates to decide how the day will proceed, and includes a full schedule of debate of the important resolutions that have been brought forward."

"Failure to address this issue prior to the beginning of Provincial Council may indicate to our members that their concerns are not important and that the role of Provincial Council has been significantly diminished."

The following is a complete copy of that message, which was sent on Friday to constituency association presidents, provincial council delegates and party executives.

***

I was disappointed to see the proposed agenda for the Provincial Council meeting on November 20th/21st. As a member of the Legislative Assembly for the past 5 years I have experienced ongoing attempts by the BC Liberal government to stifle debate, and to lessen the effectiveness of democracy within our Legislative system.

It is crucial that we as New Democrats consistently model behaviour that amplifies democracy. Any action that can be construed as reducing democratic practices within our party cannot be condoned.

It has been 8 months since Provincial Council delegates have met in person. This meeting is a key opportunity for the Provincial Council to fulfill it's mandate as the governing body of the Party between Conventions.

Constituency Associations across the province have worked for weeks and months to put together resolutions with the understanding that there will be full and reasoned debate by Provincial Council delegates.

At this time, Provincial Council delegates make up the most important body within our party. Delegates have a heavy responsibility to be the voice of the members of their constituency associations and to make the decisions for the party between Conventions.

I urge members of the executive to put forward a real agenda; an agenda that begins in the morning with allowing Provincial Council delegates to decide how the day will proceed, and includes a full schedule of debate of the important resolutions that have been brought forward.

Failure to address this issue prior to the beginning of Provincial Council may indicate to our members that their concerns are not important and that the role of Provincial Council has been significantly diminished.

I thank you for your willingness to hear my concerns, and implore you once again to reconsider approving the currently proposed agenda for Provincial Council on November 20th/21st.

Sincerely,

Norm Macdonald MLA
Columbia River - Revelstoke

3 Comments

I am in complete awe of Norm Macdonald's integrity, thoughtfulness and courage. We New Democrats are so lucky to have him in our midst, representing the rank and file members as well as those in leadership who sincerely believe in democracy.
Laurie Page

I have belonged to the NDP for 42 years, and represented the people of two Vancouver constituencies as NDP MLA from 1989-1996.

I hope the NDP Provincial Council will listen carefully to the respectful and logical argument put forward by Mr. Macdonald, who was the elected NDP Caucus Chair until his resignation from that position in October.

One of the great virtues of the NDP over the years has been its openness to responsible and legitimate grass roots democracy. In my view, it was largely the activism of our membership which brought the following enormous benefits to British Columbia, and helped preserve these progressive innovations from erosion by governments of various political stripes:

1. Agricultural Land Reserve
2. Freedom of Information and Privacy
3. 12% protected area strategy (later expanded to > 13% of the province)
4. Full human rights for women, aboriginals, Chinese and Japanese Canadians, people of non-dominant sexual orientation, etc.
5. Improvements to living conditions for people who are desperately poor, disabled, homeless, or otherwise required support from society to attain their full rights and potential as human beings
6. Freedom of choice to avoid, terminate, or continue a pregnancy according to one's own conscience and circumstances
7. etc.

Even Medicare ultimately came from the grass roots needs of people who previously could have been destroyed by illness.

Regardless of where people stand on a "political spectrum", without open discussion of alternatives to move our province forward, we will get nowhere in addressing our pressing environmental, social, and economic issues.

Or am I missing something? Is there already someone out there, anywhere in B.C., who already knows all the answers so we don't really need to discuss these issues?

Tom Perry, M.D.
Vancouver

Dr.T. Perry has summarized the good works of the party, some of the points sort of fell by the wayside. I will never forgive James for dropping the long established NDP position on Agricultural lands being part of a treaty with no conditions. Gordo did it, and she backed him up.

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