I recently received some correspondence from political supporters of mine and thought I'd pass on an epilogue to the story of my seeking an NDP federal nomination. I note that, as I send this, the NDP remains at 17% of the vote in the polls, the same august standing we received in the 2006 election.
But I'm sure you guys are, for the most part, as the PCs used to refer to their base between 1993 and 1997, "on side for the big win."
On March 23, the following was sent to Jack Layton's home and constituency office, the St. Paul's NDP riding association, the Ontario NDP and the federal NDP:
March 23, 2010
We are members of the St Paul’s Riding NDP who wish to express our outrage
and dismay at the recent decision of the NDP to ban Stuart Parker from
seeking nomination in the forthcoming federal election. We respectfully
request an opportunity to meet with national party officials to discuss this
banning. To prohibit a talented and popular member of the party from
standing for candidacy after he has been formally vetted and accepted is a
shocking action. Mr. Parker has accomplished important political work for
the NDP, particularly with regards to policy development and electoral
success relative to the Green Party. He was a candidate for nomination in
the recent provincial by-election in St Paul's and did extremely well in
articulating a vision of political direction for the NDP and the country, in
attracting financial contributions to the campaign, and in earning votes at
the nomination meeting. There was not a large difference of votes between
Mr Parker and the successful candidate, Mr Heller. Many members support his
views and many more would not wish to see them muzzled.
Even by contemporary political standards, this is a new low. We fear for
our party and our country when members are prohibited from expressing their
views in public and many more are prohibited from deciding for themselves
whether they agree with them. A party that infantalizes its membership by
refusing to involve them in debate suggests a willingness to forfeit its own
history as a courageous, progressive, principled party
of the left because of a narrow, media-determined understanding of
electability. What would Tommy Douglas say? What can we say? An adequate
reply from party executive may deter us from returning our membership cards
and ending financial contributions to the party.
The NDP has been a powerful democratic force for social justice. However, as
"Stephen," a Vancouver resident, wrote in an on-line response to news of
this decision, the party is "falling under the sway of professional
pollsters and PR types who live in fear of incurring negative media
coverage, no matter what the merits of the issue. While such officials
provide useful services, they should not be the ones deciding who is
eligible to seek a party nomination. Elected, accountable officials within
the Party should be doing that in accordance with relevant criteria. And
they should be doing so means of a transparent process which includes a
right of appeal."
The decision to bar Mr Parker from seeking nomination with no right of
appeal is particularly worrisome when the current Government so dramatically
undermines democracy. Mr. Layton and Mr. Ignatieff both wag their fingers
at government policies and actions that threaten everything this country
stands for while making sure there's
no election. When eventually there is one, it is doubtful that either the
NDP or the Liberals will improve their standings unless they are able to
articulate a compelling vision for the future. Such an achievement arises
from open discussions about politics and policy which make space for
eloquent, committed activists willing to dedicate their political and
rhetorical abilities to the party's founding principles.
Jean Ann Ledwell
On August 7th, the following was sent to the same list:
August 7, 2010
I am terminating my monthly bank transfer to the Provincial NDP. In
March of this year, I and nine other NDP members sent a joint letter
expressing deep concern about the barring of Stuart Parker from any
future nomination as a Federal NDP candidate for any riding in Canada.
These letters were sent to all of you: the National and Provincial head
offices, the St. Paul’s Riding Association, Jack Layton’s constituency
office, and to Jack’s home in Toronto’s Annex. That was five months ago.
No one, not one, had the courtesy to write to me or the others in an
attempt to explain and justify the harsh, undemocratic penalty given to
Stuart. I understand he made injudicious on-line remarks about Ujjal
Dosanjh, but Stuart also has good ideas, passion, and speaking ability.
It’s a loss.
A party that tries always to be safe, always to “control the message,”
including barring outspoken prospective candidates, is one that’s doomed
to mediocrity, irrelevance, and declining support from its own members.