This is the full text of an open letter from the Ginger Project and the Socialist Caucus. It is worth noting that at its meeting on the weekend, the ONDP Executive voted to strike a committee to look into creating an email voting system, de facto admitting that the one that was used was deeply flawed and not established in the ONDP's constitution.
Don't Prorogue the Party!
In March 2010 the Ontario New Democratic Party Executive decided to postpone the next Ontario NDP convention for a year, to 2012. It cited an obscure clause in the ONDP Constitution that says an Ontario and federal NDP convention should not occur in the same year. Leading Executive members also argued that the cost and effort associated with a convention should be devoted instead to the provincial election campaign, culminating in the vote on October 6, 2011.
However, several problems arise. The ONDP constitution requires a provincial party convention every two years, not three. An Ontario election set by provincial law to occur nineteen months from March 2010 is hardly an emergency. In addition, Ontario and Federal NDP conventions both occurred in 2009 - without difficulty. The Federal NDP delayed its convention by a year. That could happen again, given the minority government situation in Ottawa. Finally, the Ontario convention is a net money maker - not a financial drain on the party. So, the rationale for delaying the Ontario NDP convention is pretty weak, besides being a violation of the ONDP constitution.
But it gets worse. The Executive conducted a mail-in ballot vote of the 257 members of the ONDP Provincial Council on this issue - instead of bringing it to a debate and vote at the next council meeting in May. There is no provision in the ONDP Constitution for an e-mail vote to suspend the requirement to hold a convention every two years. Many Council delegates did not receive an e-mail ballot or notification. In addition, the problem of the provisional booking of the Hamilton Convention Centre could have been resolved easily. There are many unionized, spacious, available hotels in southern Ontario. Finally, the number of councillors who actually voted (95-23) would not constitute a quorum at a properly convened provincial council meeting. While the Executive is ploughing ahead, it has stirred up a storm amongst members, deepening what many perceive to be a growing democratic deficit in the party. This compounds policy weaknesses and festering contradictions concerning a range of current issues.
The NDP cannot expect to have its criticisms of social inequality and the capitalist democratic deficit taken seriously by the voting public if it behaves in the way it has towards its own members. We respectfully request that the ONDP uphold the Constitution and convene the Ontario NDP convention in the first half of 2011. That would be an excellent way to prepare for the Fall 2011 election, highlighting where the party stands on the big issues gripping the population. New members of the party want to feel involved and appreciated, not just as a target for fund raisers. ONDP members deserve no less - the opportunity to debate and determine the party's policy priorities at this critical stage of global capitalist crisis.
Don't prorogue the party. Restore the 2011 ONDP convention.
Barry Weisleder (Chair, Socialist Caucus; member Trinity-Spadina NDP), Michael Laxer (Ginger Project; former federal candidate Scarborough-Agincourt, former provincial candidate Scarborough Centre, former NDP election organizer and riding association president), John Orrett (steering committee member, Socialist Caucus; President, Thornhill NDP), Ross Ashley (S.C.; Executive member St. Paul's NDP), Julius Arscott (S.C.; member Danforth NDP), Sean Cain (S.C.; former NDP candidate Oakville), Judy Koch (S.C.; member Danforth NDP), Andrew Klochek (Ginger Project; former President Etobicoke Lakeshore NDP), Natalie Lochwin (Ginger Project), Joey Schwartz (Ginger Project; former NDP candidate Etobicoke Centre and election organizer),Elizabeth Byce [ Federal Treasurer, NDP Socialist Caucus; member of Trinity -Spadina NDP ], Simon Dougherty (former NDP candidate, Scarborough-Agincourt), Keith Pinto (Executive Member Mississauga Streetsville NDP & Former Mississauga Streetsville NDP candidate) .
If you wish to add your name to this open letter please email Michael Laxer at firstname.lastname@example.org
To sign an on-line petition regarding this please go to http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/openandtransparentondp/signatures
Please feel free to cross-post at will!