Comrades and Friends,
Since it was founded less than a year ago, the Toronto Young New Democrats (TYND) have become the single most successful NDP youth club to exist in Ontario for the last ten years. By reaching out to community groups and providing a democratic forum for the inclusion of all, we have gained a sizable base in areas that normally never see a political party outside of an election. The Esplanade, St. James Town, Lawrence Heights, just to name a few. Everyone who has become involved in the TYND, and all our supporters, should be extremely proud of building the base of the NDP amongst those who need a voice the most.
But, I am sad to say, this work, this great club, is under attack. Last night, at a secret "In Camera" executive meeting of the Ontario New Democratic Youth (ONDY), a resolution (included below) was passed that de-chartered the TYND club. Our club was vaguely charged with violating Article XIV, Section 1(a), intentionally misrepresenting policies of the NDP or ONDY. We were not allowed to know the specifics of the charges, see the evidence or face our accusers, despite repeatedly demanding our rights and protesting against the secrecy. The meeting was held "In Camera" meaning that it is technically prohibited for me to even tell the members of the very club that now, as far as the ONDY co-chairs are concerned, no longer exists, why it is that our charter has been removed!
A more blatant attack on democracy is hard to imagine. The co-chairs of the TYND arrived at the meeting with absolutely no information, the evidence presented was one sided and slanderous, and because it was kept hidden from us, because our basic freedoms were denied us, we lacked the ability to produce evidence of our own or prepare a defence. This is a total abrogation of our rights as defined in the ONDY constitution, the ONDP constitution and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We in no way recognize or validate this illegal decision or the cowardly and secretive way it was made. After making statements against this disgusting process, Jennie Ernewein and myself, co-chairs of the TYND, walked out of the meeting. It should be noted that including our rejection of this process and the resolution that came out of it, the final vote was 5 in favour, 4 against with 1 abstention. This does not meet the 2/3 requirement of the ONDY constitution for de-chartering a club. Yet another breach of the rights of TYND members done by these bureaucrats.
We are accused of having an "allegiance to Fightback" and we are told in the resolution that the TYND must "demonstrably separate itself from Fightback." Fightback is a magazine made up entirely of NDP members. Several TYND members have been published in its pages and it has been an excellent organizing tool for the TYND. NDP members have also been published in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, The National Post, Rabble, Now Magazine and a host of other publications and also the Party has a vast network of bloggers who make up a healthy grassroots level of opinion and expression. Is the ONDY going to start to suppress all forms of expression because the opinions expressed may differ from those of the ONDY Co-chairs? Is this what the ONDY is becoming, that exercising free speech is considered a crime?
We defend the inalienable democratic right of members of our Party to be free to advocate their beliefs, and we reject any kind of thought police that seeks to instigate witch hunts against honest activists. If the ONDY Co-chairs disagree with the policies that our club has democratically adopted through our membership meetings, then they are welcome to attend and put forward their own views. That is the tradition of our Party and of the Labour movement. We believe in the right to openly and honestly defend your views and then to take a vote to decide the direction of our Party organizations.
The TYND has worked with a great many community groups, the Canadian Peace Alliance, the Toronto and York Region Labour Council, The Esplanade Community Group, the Latin American Peace Initiative, and many more. All these groups contain NDP members, and no community group is 100% in line with Party talking points. Should Party members in these groups be subject to secret tribunals as well? The TYND believes that it is good for the Party to reach out to, and to include, outside community groups in our Party by allowing them to take part in shaping our policies through an open democratic process. This is how we build and how we bring others into the NDP.
Instead, we are met with secrecy, the violation of our democratic rights and slanders and attacks on freedom of speech and freedom of the press. This is not the kind of ONDY we want.
We want an ONDY built on reaching out to different community groups and bringing them into our Party. We believe in building an organization that can be the democratic forum that progressive forces need to honestly share their views, and form common goals. We believe it is through democracy and activism that new layers of youth can be brought into the NDP at a time when we need change more than ever.
The ONDY Co-chairs want to sabotage this work from the dark. They wish to destroy the most successful youth club because they are too afraid to fight us in the realm of ideas and open democracy. We will not allow our Party to be disgraced by such people.
We call on all honest youth activists to help fight against this secret and anti-democratic attack. Moreover, we encourage all young workers and students who want the opportunity to have their voices heard in their own Party, to get involved and to fight for a better future for all of us.
The TYND will be holding an Emergency meeting this Friday at the Imperial Pub (at Dundas and Yonge) at 7pm to discuss this situation and the upcoming ONDY Convention. Real change, change that really matters, never comes easy or without a fight, but the TYND and those who support real activism in the NDP youth can make such a change for the better.
For an activist and democratic ONDY!
Julian Benson and Jennie Ernewein
Whereas the Toronto Young New Democrats (TYND) have a duty, as a chartered Ontario New Democratic Youth (ONDY) club, to uphold and promote the policies, program, and principles of Ontario's and Canada's New Democrats; and
Whereas all members of the Party have ample opportunity to voice their individual opinions on policies, programs, and principles through such methods as ONDY's Convention, Provincial Councils, and the Conventions of Ontario's and Canada's New Democrats; and
Whereas an individual's or group's demonstrable membership in or allegiance with a group that promotes policies, programs, or principles that are contrary to those of Ontario's and Canada's New Democrats is in violation of a member's or group's duty to the Party; and
Whereas TYND has aligned itself, both as a club and via individual actions of the club's leadership, with the organization known as Fightback; and
Whereas Fightback promotes policies, programs, and principles that, though connected to, are fundamentally at odds with those of Ontario's and Canada's New Democrats; and
Whereas TYND's allegiance with Fightback reflects poorly on Ontario's and Canada's New Democrats, their elected representatives in the Greater Toronto Area, and those seeking election in the Greater
Toronto Area, by way of promoting policies, programs, and principles under the New Democratic banner that are not necessarily those held by Ontario's or Canada's New Democrats; and
Whereas the actions of some members, and specifically the leaders, of TYND within Fightback are a demonstrable conflict of interest between the policies, program, and principles of Ontario's and Canada's New Democrats and those of Fightback;
Be it resolved that TYND's allegiance with Fightback presents a violation of Article XIV, Section 1(a) of the Constitution of the Ontario New Democratic Youth, which establishes the requirement to de-charter any club which "Intentionally misrepresent[s] the policies, program, or principles of the NDP or the ONDY"; and
Be it further resolved that ONDY revokes the charter granted to TYND in the 2009-10 period, and further withholds re-chartering from TYND until such a time as the club demonstrably separates itself from Fightback.