The NDP should consider a collective leadership

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quizzical

now onto a nice fresh page

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..for whatever reason i missed seeing this thread and it was not until yesterday in the ndp leadership thread did i learn of it's existence. so forgive my late input.

..while it would be desirable to have collective party leadership i don't expect it to come from the top down. the more likely route is from the bottom up and collectively there is a much better chance of success to begin at the municipal level where there is already a more collective approach in general and a more direct accessibility to those in power..thus a greater ability to influence outcomes.

The City As a Commons: From Flint to Italy

quote:

The Rise of Urban Commons

Urban commons like parks, sanitation systems, public schools, public transit, libraries, hospitals, labor unions, private and public social welfare agencies emerged throughout the 19th century in response to squalid urban conditions. And the commons movement today stands on the shoulders of people’s continuing efforts to improve urban life by addressing issues like racial and economic inequality, environmental problems, neighborhood vitality, community organizing, walkability, and biking.

“The city as a commons is designed to be disruptive -- to question who owns and controls the city,” explained Sheila Foster, Fordham University Law Professor at a post-conference conversation convened in a bustling Bologna park by Shareable.net magazine. “It’s a claim that the city is open to how we exchange goods and services. It’s not just elites who should have power.”

“The idea of the urban commons is still very much in development,” said Foster, who wrote a groundbreaking paper on the city as commons with her conference co-chair Christian Iaione.

Foster outlined four major tenets of the city as commons in conference’s closing session:

1. The city is an open resource where all people can share public space and interact.

2. The city exists for widespread collaboration and cooperation.

3. The city is generative, producing for human nourishment and human need.

4. The city is a partner in creating conditions where commons can flourish.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..here's another piece i'd like to add.

Barcelona’s Struggle To Create The City As A Commons

On a visit to Barcelona last week, I learned a great deal about the city’s pioneering role in developing “the city as a commons.” I also learned that crystallizing a new commons paradigm — even in a city committed to cooperatives and open digital networks — comes with many gnarly complexities.

The Barcelona city government is led by former housing activist Ada Colau, who was elected mayor in May 2015. She is a leader of the movement that became the political party Barcelona En Comú (“Barcelona in Common”). Once in office, Colau halted the expansion of new hotels, a brave effort to prevent “economic development” (i.e., tourism) from hollowing out the city’s lively, diverse neighborhoods. As a world city, Barcelona is plagued by a crush of investors and speculators buying up real estate, making the city unaffordable for ordinary people.

Barcelona En Comú may have won the mayor’s office, but it controls only 11 of the 44 city council seats. As a result, any progress on the party’s ambitious agenda requires the familiar maneuvering and arm-twisting of conventional city politics. Its mission also became complicated because as a governing (minority) party, Barcelona En Comú is not just a movement, it must operationally assist the varied needs of a large urban economy and provide all sorts of public services: a huge, complicated job.

quote:

For example, there is the impressive Guifi.net, a broadband telecommunications network that is managed as a commons for the benefit of ordinary Internet users and small businesses. The system provides welcome competition to the giant Telefónica by providing affordable Internet access through more than 32,000 active wifi nodes.

The city is also home to Som Energia Co-op, the first renewable energy co-op in Catalunya. It both resells energy bought from the market and is developing its own renewable energy projects — wind turbines, solar panels, biogas plants — to produce energy for its members.

Barcelona En Comú realizes that boosting that commons collaborative economy is an act of co-creation with commoners, not a government project alone. So the city has established new systems to open and expand new dialogues. There is a group council called BarCola, for example, which convenes leading players in the collaborative economy and commons-based peer production to assess the progress of this sector and recommend helpful policies. There is also an open meetup called Procommuns.net, and Decim.Barcelona (Decide Barcelona), a web platform for public deliberation and decisionmaking....

Sean in Ottawa

Bottom up is a really nice idea but power is more top down. The bottom up power is mostly based on whether you want to stay or leave. When it comes to policies within a party you need champions in order to garner greater communication and support of proposals.

Just work out a plan for how this would actually work and you can see the problem.

****

There is also no chance of it coming from the municipality -- the municipality is a corporation owned by the province with very limited authority given to it by the province. It cannot re-design itself. The city and the federal government -- to the extent they are limited by constitutional provisions -- can.

In Canada we have two levels of government and two jurisdictions and this is something very poorly understood as even many lazy so-called experts get this wrong. Any constitutional lawyer ought to be able to explain it, however.

The jurisdictions are 1) Federal and 2) provincial. They have authority over different things, defined by the constitution, but are both senior.

The levels are

1) SENIOR Provincial and Federal (senior) and

2) JUNIOR municipal (junior to the provinces), territorial (junior to the federal government) and Indigenous (junior to the federal government).

Policy is set at the municipal level but within a structure provided by the province. A province can eleminate municipal governments for example while the federal government cannot eliminate provinces. A province can move authority to and from municipal;ities but a Municipality cannot change it (Example when the Harris government moved social assistance mandates to the cities in Ontario). And this is just the start of it. Cities have been called "creatures of the province."

Unionist

Thank you for reviving this thread, epaulo. Hopefully we can resume some respectful conversation on this issue. Although the closer we get to an actual leadership race in the NDP, the more we will need to focus on who uses which brand of lipstick.

 

Sean in Ottawa

At some point you do need to have structures that really invite bottom up power in order for that to be effective. There must be people at the top (or start) of a party on board with this or the bottom will never get that opportunity.

The template is often unions. Unions have the greatest degree of bottom up power due to structures created at the start and standards for democracy that exist within unions.

People complain about unions but they remain the very most democratic institutions around -- and for this reason a target of those who do not support democracy.

Outside of unions, I know of no real bottom up power organizations. And certainly no party really does it.

So if you want bottom up change politically -- maybe the best way is through a union.

Sean in Ottawa

Unionist wrote:

Thank you for reviving this thread, epaulo. Hopefully we can resume some respectful conversation on this issue. Although the closer we get to an actual leadership race in the NDP, the more we will need to focus on who uses which brand of lipstick.

 

Maybe if we want a political party with bottom up power we should push within unions to get this. No other lever exists at the bottom. It would be good to ahve a real labour party....

Wilf Day

Joint leaders is a radical idea? Not to Michelle Rempel and Denis Lebel, who ran as a team to be interim Conservative leader

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..i'm concidering your post sean and will respond when i get my thought together. i want it to be a thoughtful response so it may mean after xmas. just to much going on right now. in the mean time here is a bottom up push. i posted it in the pipeline thread but i see it as a contribution to the discussion or at least to the points i'm trying to make. and without a doubt this is power.

This City Just Banned Virtually All New Dirty-Energy Infrastructure

On December 14, the city council in Portland, Oregon, voted unanimously to set “the first stone in a green wall across the West Coast,” in the words of Mayor Charlie Hales. He was referring to a groundbreaking new zoning ordinance that effectively bans all new fossil-fuel-export infrastructure within the city’s limits—including new port facilities for shipping coal, and holding tanks for oil and natural gas—and prevents existing facilities from expanding. The vote marks a hard-fought victory for local activists and environmental groups. And, in anticipation of the Trump administration’s pro–fossil fuel agenda, it signals to other cities that innovative action to counter climate change is still possible at a local level.

Hales wasn’t always so supportive of building a “green wall” against fossil-fuel exports. In fact, the two-year-long grassroots campaign that led to the new zoning ordinance began in opposition to Hales’s initial support for a $500 million propane export facility proposed by the Pembina Pipeline Corporation, the largest pipeline company in the Canadian tar sands. Local opponents—who organized themselves into a group calling itself the Climate Action Coalition—bird-dogged Hales at local events, photo-bombing him with their protest signs. They posted a caricature of Mayor Hales with the name “Fossil Fuel Charlie for Mayor” on Portland State University’s campus. On Earth Day 2015, coalition members briefly took over City Council proceedings, bearing giant cardboard cutouts of councilors’ faces and talk bubbles showing quotes in which they’d pledged to act swiftly on the climate crisis.

Facing the choice between the propane-export terminal—the single largest business proposal in Portland history—and a well-organized pack of activist opponents, who submitted thousands of letters, e-mails and calls to City Hall, as well as Portland-area scientists who produced voluminous reports highlighting the potential catastrophe posed by mile-long trains filled with propane traversing the city’s rails each day, Hales finally surrendered: He took the Pembina propane-terminal proposal off the city’s docket....

Sean in Ottawa

epaulo13 wrote:

..i'm concidering your post sean and will respond when i get my thought together. i want it to be a thoughtful response so it may mean after xmas. just to much going on right now. in the mean time here is a bottom up push. i posted it in the pipeline thread but i see it as a contribution to the discussion or at least to the points i'm trying to make. and without a doubt this is power.

This City Just Banned Virtually All New Dirty-Energy Infrastructure

On December 14, the city council in Portland, Oregon, voted unanimously to set “the first stone in a green wall across the West Coast,” in the words of Mayor Charlie Hales. He was referring to a groundbreaking new zoning ordinance that effectively bans all new fossil-fuel-export infrastructure within the city’s limits—including new port facilities for shipping coal, and holding tanks for oil and natural gas—and prevents existing facilities from expanding. The vote marks a hard-fought victory for local activists and environmental groups. And, in anticipation of the Trump administration’s pro–fossil fuel agenda, it signals to other cities that innovative action to counter climate change is still possible at a local level.

Hales wasn’t always so supportive of building a “green wall” against fossil-fuel exports. In fact, the two-year-long grassroots campaign that led to the new zoning ordinance began in opposition to Hales’s initial support for a $500 million propane export facility proposed by the Pembina Pipeline Corporation, the largest pipeline company in the Canadian tar sands. Local opponents—who organized themselves into a group calling itself the Climate Action Coalition—bird-dogged Hales at local events, photo-bombing him with their protest signs. They posted a caricature of Mayor Hales with the name “Fossil Fuel Charlie for Mayor” on Portland State University’s campus. On Earth Day 2015, coalition members briefly took over City Council proceedings, bearing giant cardboard cutouts of councilors’ faces and talk bubbles showing quotes in which they’d pledged to act swiftly on the climate crisis.

Facing the choice between the propane-export terminal—the single largest business proposal in Portland history—and a well-organized pack of activist opponents, who submitted thousands of letters, e-mails and calls to City Hall, as well as Portland-area scientists who produced voluminous reports highlighting the potential catastrophe posed by mile-long trains filled with propane traversing the city’s rails each day, Hales finally surrendered: He took the Pembina propane-terminal proposal off the city’s docket....

I understood we were speaking of a Canadian context. From your article "Still, cities have wide latitude to govern their own health and safety, and by blocking export infrastructure"

My response was based entirely on the Canadian constitutional division of power, where municipalities have very limited room for a limited set of policy decisions. But as your article points out this is not a universal reality. In the United States, Cities have different powers depending on the state. They are also different if they are a county. (Some cities form a whole county whereas some counties may have multiple cities in them and a county level of government.)

It is not surprising that the US at the city level has more power than we do in Canada. This reflects national history. In Canada we have very strong provincial powers and national powers (and not with the same division as the US). In the US many cities have near total control over educaiton, whereas in Canada through boards (at their discretion), the province controls this.

So I agree with you that it is a good idea to take action at the lowest point where power resides -- but in Canada that may not be the city -- even if it is elsewhere.

I raised unions, becuase for unionized workers these are democratic institutions with very direct local power. Otherwise Canadian power is highly centralized and we would hve to consider provincial rather than city. I suggest this is by design.

I think we have a general problem in Canada which is swamped by US culture and ideas but has considerable differences and this is one.

I appreciate your thought later on all of this. I think the key is to find the most accessible order of power available -- the problem is that here, it is not necessarily cities.

That said within the mandates given to cities, which do not include their structure, there are mandates you could advance at that level. There are also possibilities at school boards. But in many cases you do have to reach a higher level -- if you want a change in certain areas. Like I say, if you are unionized this is the smallest local power that can largely define itself. A city cannot change its mandate, method of governance, or jurisdiction in Canada. That is the province...

Unionist

Wilf Day wrote:

Joint leaders is a radical idea? Not to Michelle Rempel and Denis Lebel, who ran as a team to be interim Conservative leader

Not sure who proposed "joint leaders" or who said that a new model would be a "radical idea". Québec Solidaire has no "leaders" at all. I'm attracted by that notion, because leaders tend to morph into entitled dictatorial assholes. My question (which started this thread) was about "collective leadership". Let me elaborate. That means, "leadership by the collective".

Yes, I know that federal election law (and perhaps some provincial ones) require a registered party to have a "leader", who exercises unquestioned dictatorial power as to who may run under the party banner. But that's not a real problem for the NDP. You are surely aware that under the NDP constitution (which is followed by no one, perhaps read by no one), the "Leader" has only a few ceremonial functions - but no decision-making power. So the federal law (for example) could easily be satisfied/circumvented by having a simple regulation determining how the "leader" (who would be a purely symbolic functionary) makes such determinations.

I was looking for a conversation about how to remove power from the usurpers and give it back to the members, where the NDP constitution pretends that it resides. I think having 2, 3, or 4 leaders would just create more spoiled brats lording it over ordinary folks. I'm prepared to be convinced otherwise, even though I've held this view for over 40 years. Antiquity doesn't equal utility.

 

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

epaulo13 wrote:

..i'm concidering your post sean and will respond when i get my thought together. i want it to be a thoughtful response so it may mean after xmas. just to much going on right now. in the mean time here is a bottom up push. i posted it in the pipeline thread but i see it as a contribution to the discussion or at least to the points i'm trying to make. and without a doubt this is power.

This City Just Banned Virtually All New Dirty-Energy Infrastructure

On December 14, the city council in Portland, Oregon, voted unanimously to set “the first stone in a green wall across the West Coast,” in the words of Mayor Charlie Hales. He was referring to a groundbreaking new zoning ordinance that effectively bans all new fossil-fuel-export infrastructure within the city’s limits—including new port facilities for shipping coal, and holding tanks for oil and natural gas—and prevents existing facilities from expanding. The vote marks a hard-fought victory for local activists and environmental groups. And, in anticipation of the Trump administration’s pro–fossil fuel agenda, it signals to other cities that innovative action to counter climate change is still possible at a local level.

Hales wasn’t always so supportive of building a “green wall” against fossil-fuel exports. In fact, the two-year-long grassroots campaign that led to the new zoning ordinance began in opposition to Hales’s initial support for a $500 million propane export facility proposed by the Pembina Pipeline Corporation, the largest pipeline company in the Canadian tar sands. Local opponents—who organized themselves into a group calling itself the Climate Action Coalition—bird-dogged Hales at local events, photo-bombing him with their protest signs. They posted a caricature of Mayor Hales with the name “Fossil Fuel Charlie for Mayor” on Portland State University’s campus. On Earth Day 2015, coalition members briefly took over City Council proceedings, bearing giant cardboard cutouts of councilors’ faces and talk bubbles showing quotes in which they’d pledged to act swiftly on the climate crisis.

Facing the choice between the propane-export terminal—the single largest business proposal in Portland history—and a well-organized pack of activist opponents, who submitted thousands of letters, e-mails and calls to City Hall, as well as Portland-area scientists who produced voluminous reports highlighting the potential catastrophe posed by mile-long trains filled with propane traversing the city’s rails each day, Hales finally surrendered: He took the Pembina propane-terminal proposal off the city’s docket....

I understood we were speaking of a Canadian context. From your article "Still, cities have wide latitude to govern their own health and safety, and by blocking export infrastructure"

My response was based entirely on the Canadian constitutional division of power, where municipalities have very limited room for a limited set of policy decisions. But as your article points out this is not a universal reality. In the United States, Cities have different powers depending on the state. They are also different if they are a county. (Some cities form a whole county whereas some counties may have multiple cities in them and a county level of government.)

It is not surprising that the US at the city level has more power than we do in Canada. This reflects national history. In Canada we have very strong provincial powers and national powers (and not with the same division as the US). In the US many cities have near total control over educaiton, whereas in Canada through boards (at their discretion), the province controls this.

So I agree with you that it is a good idea to take action at the lowest point where power resides -- but in Canada that may not be the city -- even if it is elsewhere.

I raised unions, becuase for unionized workers these are democratic institutions with very direct local power. Otherwise Canadian power is highly centralized and we would hve to consider provincial rather than city. I suggest this is by design.

I think we have a general problem in Canada which is swamped by US culture and ideas but has considerable differences and this is one.

I appreciate your thought later on all of this. I think the key is to find the most accessible order of power available -- the problem is that here, it is not necessarily cities.

That said within the mandates given to cities, which do not include their structure, there are mandates you could advance at that level. There are also possibilities at school boards. But in many cases you do have to reach a higher level -- if you want a change in certain areas. Like I say, if you are unionized this is the smallest local power that can largely define itself. A city cannot change its mandate, method of governance, or jurisdiction in Canada. That is the province...

..i don't agree with you on the union template because it mirrors the corporate structure. more on that later. having said that the union movement was built inspite of laws the forbade it's existance. i suggest we don't allow laws created to surpress democracy stand in the way. again from the my intitial post:

“The city as a commons is designed to be disruptive -- to question who owns and controls the city,” explained Sheila Foster, Fordham University Law Professor at a post-conference conversation convened in a bustling Bologna park by Shareable.net magazine. “It’s a claim that the city is open to how we exchange goods and services. It’s not just elites who should have power.”

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Unionist wrote:

Thank you for reviving this thread, epaulo. Hopefully we can resume some respectful conversation on this issue. Although the closer we get to an actual leadership race in the NDP, the more we will need to focus on who uses which brand of lipstick.

..yes i would like to hear that conversation as well. i'll do my best not to stray to far but if i do feel free to let me know. :)

Sean in Ottawa

epaulo13 wrote:

 

“The city as a commons is designed to be disruptive -- to question who owns and controls the city,” explained Sheila Foster, Fordham University Law Professor at a post-conference conversation convened in a bustling Bologna park by Shareable.net magazine. “It’s a claim that the city is open to how we exchange goods and services. It’s not just elites who should have power.”

I like the philosophy but you presented it as a practical point. In Canada cities do not have the power to do what you suggest -- as much as it might be a good thing.

I disagree with the suggestion that unions are a corporate model. They are designed for equal participation from the bottom up wheras corporations are not. I am not saying unions are perfect but they are the best model if you are looking for one where the entry person has equal standing. I can't think of much else that reflects that.

Unionist

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

So if you want bottom up change politically -- maybe the best way is through a union.

Maybe. But only if: 1) the union can itself shed the cult of the leadership, which too many are affected by. 2) the union can move beyond its statutory existence (i.e. as certified bargaining agent for a bargaining unit in a workplace or workplaces) and reach out to embrace non-unionized workers, geographic communities, freelancers, precarious workers, students, etc. etc. Some unions are nominally trying to do this (e.g. Unifor), with limited success, perhaps based on limited motivation. And many unions slavishly put their members' fates in the hand of one or another of the establishment political parties, looking for short-term gain, and abandoning the agency of workers in the process. I don't want to disagree with you, or just focus on the negatives. I think you may be right, and I want to hear more of your own experience in this regard.

Sean in Ottawa

epaulo13 wrote:

Unionist wrote:

Thank you for reviving this thread, epaulo. Hopefully we can resume some respectful conversation on this issue. Although the closer we get to an actual leadership race in the NDP, the more we will need to focus on who uses which brand of lipstick.

..yes i would like to hear that conversation as well. i'll do my best not to stray to far but if i do feel free to let me know. :)

I think there are more possibilities available than this. With few potential candidates-- why shouldn't someone enter with a platform of restoring more balance in power between the top and bottom. Unionist -- why don't you go for it yourself or invite soemone else who will present these ideas? That would be one way to get the conversation going?

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

I disagree with the suggestion that unions are a corporate model.

..i didn't suggest this.

..i said this

..i don't agree with you on the union template because it mirrors the corporate structure.

..which means in order of power

president

vice president (s)

treasurer

grievence officer

union member

..this is also the corporate structure for provincial feds and the clc..give or take positions in between president and member. it is also the party structure. and this is what i believe needs to change to a more collaborative structure. this is what lies at the heart of my presentations.

Sean in Ottawa

epaulo13 wrote:

I disagree with the suggestion that unions are a corporate model.

..i didn't suggest this.

..i said this

..i don't agree with you on the union template because it mirrors the corporate structure.

..which means in order of power

president

vice president (s)

treasurer

grievence officer

union member

..this is also the corporate structure for provincial feds and the clc..give or take positions in between president and member. it is also the party structure. and this is what i believe needs to change to a more collaborative structure. this is what lies at the heart of my presentations.

I think it is the most bottom-up you will find. Any union member can speak to the group. I don't think you get this with corporations. I know you don't.

Yes, they have roles but the union member is far closer to power than an employee of an organization.

Unionist

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

Yes, they have roles but the union member is far closer to power than an employee of an organization.

This is true. An "organization" can fire an employee without much fuss. A union bureaucracy has much more difficulty dealing with a "troublemaker" or dissident - which didn't stop them trying to "suspend" me several times in my less temperate years - but the members always came to meetings and threatened the bureaucrats, which got me reinstated.

But here's the problem. We're talking about the NDP. In theory (read the Constitution), all power resides in the membership. Members elected the leader, members elect delegates to Convention, Convention is the supreme policy-making body, between Conventions it's the national council, also elected by members, etc. etc. The Leader, as I never tire in pointing out, has no decision-making powers whatsoever, let alone dictatorial ones.

So I don't think the solution lies entirely (maybe not even partially) in revamping the structural model. Because members abandon their power within the existing structure. So how will changing the structure help?

I think maybe what we need is a movement - based in ridings, workplaces, educational institutions, etc. - where members act collectively, refuse to name "leaders", designate representatives and spokespeople for particular purposes, stand up and declare "we will never obey orders from anyone who is not directly and concretely answerable to us", and endow themselves with a decent communications network to spread the gospel. Specifically, we could start with following the constitution to the letter. A radical proposal, I know. But it means people standing up and saying: "The Constitution gives you zero authority. We will not, for the sake of being English gentlemen, allow you to dictate and decide on our behalf. You serve at our behest."

 

Mobo2000

I think many people opt out of using the existing participatory structures within the party (or within Canadian society more generally) out of apathy and a general lack of information, which is encouraged by elites and mainstream media.   But creating opportunities for people to meaningfully participate in democratic decisions has never been more possible than it is now.  Yay internets.

I think Unionist is right that a change in attitude is needed by everyday people on this.   As well as the cult of the leader, there is also the cult of the expert.  I think that needs to be fought against as well -- I have well educated liberal friends who say to me that proportional representation is too confusing for most people to understand.   Or that the economy should be managed by economists.   Or that foreign policy is too complicated and too reliant on information that is secret to allow meaningful input from voters.

And through the wonders of the internet, or even through an actually independent, properly functioning media, these objections could be washed away.   If people can understand the bracket system for March Madness basketball (and they do, and will debate it endlessly), they can understand the various models of proportional representation.  My liberal friends are confusing motivation with capability -- most people can understand all the big issues of the left, but they aren't motivated to inform themselves or act, because they think it is futile (and in many cases, they are right).  

Regarding the NDP and multiple leaders:  

I would be in favour of the NDP adopting a multi-leader or leaderless structure, both in principle and as a way of reversing the party's decline.   I can see the beginning of the campaign:  "The NDP needs a new leader - You!"   It might even play well in the media as a commitment to bottom up decisionmaking, or perhaps it would be portrayed as an attempt to get youth votes and be the next "agent of change", Bernie Sanders style.  And it works as a sort of clever reply to all faux-sympathetic stories about the NDP's leadership woes.

I'd like to add the caveat that I am a big believer in rotating people in positions of power.   If the NDP committed to max 3-4 year term for their leader(s), I'd be overjoyed.

mark_alfred

The Occupy Movement was largely a movement based on the idea of decrying leadership structures and looking to change how society is managed.  It fizzled due to a lack of focus.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..instead of creating 1 long post i’m opting to submit several smaller ones. it will be easier to work with i believe.

..structure is one of the most important elements in how involved memberships are..this applies to both the ndp party and unions. the connection between, via leadership, the ndp and the union movement has forged a labour peace at all costs. which is the opposite of what is needed. following is my account on what this labour peace looks like. it is not meant to be an attack nor am i trying to take away any achievement made or the need for a progressive(s) party or unions today. just that these structures must change if those organizations are to be relevant to the transformation needed today.

..the ccf/ndp was born out of collaboration. would i have been around at the time and involved i would have expected those collaborations to continue in a broad sense and not the narrow focus of today. instead the ccf/ndp proceeded to create structures that mirrored the corporate/party structure.

..unions were also formed via collaborations between working folks and i understand that in 1873 the first union was founded. almost 150 years later and for the most part workers still can’t openly talk union business or meet together on the shop floor. it was not always this way. in the canadian auto unions, i have read, if they had a serious grievance work would stop and the workers would walk over to the management offices and nothing would move until the dispute was settled. this was not acceptable to management/profit so the union conceded this power and everything moved to the back rooms. the direct participation ended and the cult of leadership began. while something was needed re dispute resolution this was not the answer. also laid the groundwork for what was to come. 

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..my very first awareness of unions came in my early 20‘s..in the early 70‘s..in wpg. i was working at a foundry making tractor parts. i learned to be a grinder and make the molds that were later used to pour metal into. the work was dirty so showers and a change of clothes were needed before leaving for home. and if you worked around the furnaces or poured metal..dangerous as well. i worked there for 2 months then as i walked out after a shift there was a group of people with picket signs calling me and the other workers leaving scabs. next shift i came in and the pickets were gone. i talked to a coworker who had been there for a long time and he told me there was a strike for a long time but the company had beat the union. it didn’t feel right to me at the time so after the next shift i quit. although i didn’t know it at the time..this was my first lesson in labour solidarity..where was it? and how was this allowed to happen in manitoba were the ndp were in power.  

..soon after i got another job. it seemed easy in those days to get work..not like today. this time at a domtar plant making wallboard. i worked there for a little over a year and even though it was unionized never did i see or hear from a union rep. i did meet a lefty though..non vanguard..and we had many an interesting talk while working. he opened up a whole new world for me..a working class. even though i didn’t have any kind of real understanding it felt right and i took to it like a fish to water. later he invited me to a meeting of the winnipeg labour collective. it was a group set up to build strike support. everyone in the group, except me, was once an ndy member. they had left the party because they didn’t feel the ndp was going in the right direction and no one was listening to the ndy who had different ideas. control of the party was as it is today..a few at the top. one of the members worked at flyers industry which made buses. the government, at the time, held a financial interest and the workers were represented by caimaw. the workers went on strike and the company hired strike breakers. i was on their picket line one day, locked arm and leg on the ground determined to prevent any scabs from crossing. the ndp government sent in around 300 police trainees to pull us apart, carry us into bus then haul us off to jail for a couple hours then let go without charges. again this strike breaking was allowed to happen with the blessing of the union movement and ndp leadership. for me this was evidence that what the collective members did in leaving the ndy and trying another was justified.   

swallow swallow's picture

Mobo2000 wrote:

I would be in favour of the NDP adopting a multi-leader or leaderless structure, both in principle and as a way of reversing the party's decline.   I can see the beginning of the campaign:  "The NDP needs a new leader - You!"  

Nice idea, that.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..with my first child born a few months earlier and the knowledge i had gathered from the collective, i applied for work to the winnipeg post office and in 1974 was hired. it was clear at the time this up and coming cupw was the place for me. the union was in transition as i was. cupw was looking for a different path and so was i. labour peace was not the priority for this different  path which was supported from the bottom to the top. jc parrot reflected that change and the focus was geared toward membership. the response of the membership was the solid support for the ‘75 postal strike which broke new ground in many areas including tech change. the strike was so strong that trudeau exempted postal workers from the wage controls he introduced at the time.

..i worked and learned much in the cupw local. the executive was old school so to speak. didn’t want the activist direction now coming from the national. they still did things in the back room. once i challenged this and was threatened with a beating by the local president. the young cupw activists tried one year to oust these folks but we lost..by 9 votes. we rocked the local. change did finally occur but that was after i had transferred to vancouver in ‘81.

..my experience at the time with the manitoba fed was that it was locked up. there was no labour solidarity to speak of other than press releases or 1 day actions. any support actions taken usually came from the labour council. i remember gary doer became president of mgeu in the late ‘70 and he was pretty much the same person politically as he was as premier of the province. one year the clc met in wpg and dennis mcdermott, then the president was getting his ass kicked over not supporting the sudbury mine workers and cupw who had continued to strike after legislation was passed making it illegal. parrot went to jail for that defiance. doer got up and hammer mcdermott as well but many knew that doer promoted the same none support position. as to the illegal strike the ndp in the fed parliment offered some support for cupw but the union felt the party could have done so much more in delaying tactics. come labour day parrot speaking in hamilton called for a new labour party.  

aka Mycroft

It's not in the written Constitution but constitutional convention is that if a government is defeated, the Governor General asks someone (invariably the leader of the party) to form a government and be prime minister. "Collective leadership" or not one person is so tasked. 

 

Unionist

aka Mycroft wrote:

It's not in the written Constitution but constitutional convention is that if a government is defeated, the Governor General asks someone (invariably the leader of the party) to form a government and be prime minister. "Collective leadership" or not one person is so tasked. 

 

So what? Does that same convention provide that the Prime Minister acts like a president or monarch? (Hint: Answer is "no".) Does that convention provide that the "leader" exercises unaccountable dictatorial power within their party? (Hint: Answer is "no".)

In short, your "convention" (which is not law, not enforceable, is in fact nothing) could be followed without having some despot running the party that wins the most seats (or whatever electoral system is chosen). The party "leader" could be some lowly functionary tasked with the necessary clerical functions, without having any decision-making powers whatsoever.

I respect your views, Mycroft, and am pleased to see you back in these parts. But did you have any actual opinion regarding the topic of this thread? Because in my very humble opinion, if this issue isn't tackled and debated, the NDP will take its well-deserved place in the toxic waste heap of history.

Continue please, epaulo.

 

lagatta4

Glad to see Mycroft back! Bonne année!

aka Mycroft

It's not my convention, it's a constitutional convention. It's also why when leaderless parties such as the United Farmers of Ontario in 1919, the Progressive Party of Manitoba in 1922 or Alberta Social Credit in 1935 surprised everyone by winning an election they quickly had to choose someone for the lieutenant-governor to ask to form a government as Premier. And constitutional conventions are not "nothing", the courts follow them (which is why the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in the early 1980s that according to convention, Pierre Trudeau needed the consent of the provinces to patriate the constitution) as do governors general. 

Unionist

So Mycroft, did you actually read my reply to your post, and my point that a party can name a "leader" as a pure formality - as indeed Québec Solidaire has done, in order to conform with various legalities - without affecting the essence of how the party is led and functions? What's wrong with just having the conversation based on content, and not form? 

If you're saying that the NDP can't have a collective leadership in reality, because the Governor-General (talk about form without content!) will say, "Who's your Daddy? Hmmm? Who's your Daddy?", then I guess I won't press you further on the point. 

aka Mycroft

My point is when it's been tried in the past it ended as soon as the party won an election because someone has to be named PM/Premier. Also, my observation generally is in organizations that have collective leadership one individual ends up being the leader even if they don't formally have that title. The difference is instead of becoming leader democratically, by being elected, they emerge on top through force of character, alliances, internal machinations etc and so they are, in practice, less accountable, not more. 

aka Mycroft

Unionist wrote:
The party "leader" could be some lowly functionary tasked with the necessary clerical functions, without having any decision-making powers whatsoever.

So you mean like some sort of secretary? A general secretary perhaps? 

sherpa-finn

epaulo wrote: jc parrot reflected that change and the focus was geared toward membership. the response of the membership was the solid support for the ‘75 postal strike which broke new ground in many areas including tech change. the strike was so strong that trudeau exempted postal workers from the wage controls he introduced at the time.

A couple of minor (and tangential to this thread) footnotes about this interesting time in Canadian politics and labour relations:

While JC Parrot was national negotiator for CUPW in the 1975 strike, Joe Davidson (famously titled by the media as "The Most Unpopular Man in Canada") - and with a thick Scottish accent you could cut with a knife - was the union president through that period. 

And on the CUPW exemption to the wage controls, -  the union had successfully negotiated an agreement with the Federal Gov't.  This agreement was then ruled invalid by the Anti-Inflation Board which had been set up by the Gov't to ensure compliance with the wage and price controls. The Trudeau cabinet then over-ruled the AIB decision.

Interesting times. 

Stockholm

Unionist wrote:

So Mycroft, did you actually read my reply to your post, and my point that a party can name a "leader" as a pure formality - as indeed Québec Solidaire has done, in order to conform with various legalities - without affecting the essence of how the party is led and functions?

As I recall, in the last two Quebec elections, there were leaders debates and in each case Francoise David alone represented Quebec Solidaire. I do not recall a debate where you had Marois, Coullard, Legault and a barbershop quartet from the QS "collective leadership" all speaking at once or huddling before each volley in the debate to agree amongst themselves what one of them should say. In the yes of the public Francoise David is the leader of QS. Period.

Sean in Ottawa

I think things are not as complicated as people are making out.

The issue is not naming a leader capable of being PM. This is easily done.

It is the centralizing of all the powers presumed to be in that role into one person.

Job descriptions can be changed. The powers of a leader are real and necessary and there are many heads of power we can discuss all part of the present job description of a leader. So imagine dividng them up. There would still be a Prime Minister, but the person woudl not have all the roles we think of with a Prime Minister. There would still be party leadership functions but who is to say that has to be the same person. So a party could nominate a person as their PM nominee, responsible for that role and have that a different person from the party leader.

If you list all the functions of a party leader and then split them up differently you can still have all the functions covered along with more than one person in those roles.

Naturally, I woudl imagine this would be challenging to maintain as when there is conflict one would want the other's role and this is how centralization happens in the first place. But it is not a given. I am not saying it is the best or only model, but we won't be able to evaluate that until we at least admit this option is possible and nothing is stopping it.

A party must have a designate for PM -- but I think all else can be considered. including what role the party gives that person. Constitutionally, the main requirement is the person obtain and retain confidence of the House.

mark_alfred

Quote:

A party must have a designate for PM -- but I think all else can be considered. including what role the party gives that person.

Yes.  It should be flexible.  So, while in the past a PM would be expected to be in the House of Commons and be up to date on issues, the job could, theoretically, be reconfigured into pure PR, like selfies, BBQs, selling schmooze access to billionaires, posing in Vogue with the spouse, etc.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

sherpa-finn wrote:

epaulo wrote: jc parrot reflected that change and the focus was geared toward membership. the response of the membership was the solid support for the ‘75 postal strike which broke new ground in many areas including tech change. the strike was so strong that trudeau exempted postal workers from the wage controls he introduced at the time.

A couple of minor (and tangential to this thread) footnotes about this interesting time in Canadian politics and labour relations:

While JC Parrot was national negotiator for CUPW in the 1975 strike, Joe Davidson (famously titled by the media as "The Most Unpopular Man in Canada") - and with a thick Scottish accent you could cut with a knife - was the union president through that period. 

And on the CUPW exemption to the wage controls, -  the union had successfully negotiated an agreement with the Federal Gov't.  This agreement was then ruled invalid by the Anti-Inflation Board which had been set up by the Gov't to ensure compliance with the wage and price controls. The Trudeau cabinet then over-ruled the AIB decision.

Interesting times. 

..txs sherpa-finn and yes interesting times..as it is today. you are correct in saying that joe davidson was president. but parrot was the driving force throughout the '75 strike. one time during the strike the local asked to have someone from the national come speak to the members. joe was offered up but the local said no and we wanted parrot. he became president 2 yrs later in '77 and throughout his tenure he remained the first negotiator. as i pointed out the union was in transition and joe in all his colourful language was a part of the past. there were wildcat strikes going on in toronto and other places '74 which represented dissatisfaction not only with the po but with the union. these wildcats remembered previous ‘65 wildcats that led to the entire federal public service having collective bargaining. those wildcats in ‘65 and in ‘70 were again showing dissatisfaction with the post office but also with the union.

Unionist

aka Mycroft wrote:

Also, my observation generally is in organizations that have collective leadership one individual ends up being the leader even if they don't formally have that title. The difference is instead of becoming leader democratically, by being elected, they emerge on top through force of character, alliances, internal machinations etc and so they are, in practice, less accountable, not more. 

Ok, thanks - your experience, then, is that collective leadership doesn't work because there is always a single leader, whether by rules, or in practice.

I totally disagree (inasmuch as my experience is different), but at least we have a disagreement which is worth discussing in the context of this thread topic. I really didn't want discussion to end at: "Well, the Elections Act says you have to have a Leader", or "constitutional convention", etc. 

Unionist

Stockholm wrote:

In the yes of the public Francoise David is the leader of QS. Period.

In the eyes of the law, Pierre-Paul St-Onge is the "leader" of Québec Solidaire. Semi-colon.

Never heard of him? Thanks for proving my point.

 

sherpa-finn

Just a quick word of thanks and appreciation to epaulo13 for his personal reflections on a life of engagement and how the lessons learned from those first hand experiences are seen to fit (or not) with the issues of this particular thread.

FWIW, this is one Babble reader who greatly values this sort of contribution (ie rooted in activist practice) to our discussions.  Nicely done.

sherpa-finn

Unionist wrote:

Stockholm wrote:

In the yes of the public Francoise David is the leader of QS. Period.

In the eyes of the law, Pierre-Paul St-Onge is the "leader" of Québec Solidaire. Semi-colon.

Never heard of him? Thanks for proving my point.

Umm. Actually Elections Quebec currently lists Gaétan Châteauneuf as QS's official "leader" as of June 2016.  Last I heard, he was head of CSN-Montreal ....

 

 

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..like i said in an earlier post i transferred to the vancouver po. this was jan ‘81. the cupw local was an eye opener as compared to what i had left in wpg. and an education. pitched battles occurring for control of the shop floor. all the executive and most of the shop stewards were one form of lefty or another. the overall flavour though was a non vanguard left. the bc fed was much the same as manitoba re strike support. press releases or 1 day actions and again with a much more active labour council.

..in ‘83 bc voted in the social credit party lead by bill bennett. two months after being elected they introduced a sweeping austerity bill. restraint it was called..the buzzed word of the time. but the bill went way beyond financial cuts as it ended rent controls, attacked unions and gutted human rights. in response the bc fed allied with advocacy groups and organized a massive protest movement better known as operation solidarity after the actions with the same name in poland. 

..there was massive public support with huge demonstrations. both teachers and the geu went on strike. there was an occupation of the premier’s vancouver offices for 24 hrs by various activist unions. in the middle of this art kube then president of the bc fed became ill. jack munro took over and went with a group of union leaders to bennett’s home in kelowna. later i met one of those unionist who told me that munro met with bennett’s alone while the  sat outside the office. at some point munro came out and said he had reached an agreement. nothing on paper. no witnesses. the unions went back to work. later bennett denied a deal was reached. the role of the ndp throughout while admirable in victoria but it did not want the strikes and uprisings. in particular dave barrett called for getting the movement under control. both the actions of barrett and munro highlight the unwritten labour peace at any cost doctrine. it also highlights how grassroots participation is discourage unless specifically called for by the leaders and totally controlled.

eta:  i’m unsure if the fed had any intention at all in carrying it out but early on a plan had been created. first the bc public service unions were to hit the streets. this had begun as i stated above. the next stage was the private sector unions wood fish steel etc. and finally the federal unions psac cupw etc. on the street you could feel the strength. the solidarity and the willingness to go further. you could smell the government collapsing. this i believe was what drove fear into the ndp and the bc fed. this could not be allowed to happen.

Unionist

sherpa-finn wrote:

Unionist wrote:

Stockholm wrote:

In the yes of the public Francoise David is the leader of QS. Period.

In the eyes of the law, Pierre-Paul St-Onge is the "leader" of Québec Solidaire. Semi-colon.

Never heard of him? Thanks for proving my point.

Umm. Actually Elections Quebec currently lists Gaétan Châteauneuf as QS's official "leader" as of June 2016.  Last I heard, he was head of CSN-Montreal ....

LOL sorry, I stand corrected, missed that change! Further proves my point about the "leader".

 

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..txs for those words of support sherpa-finn! i appreciate them.

aka Mycroft

Unionist wrote:

aka Mycroft wrote:

Also, my observation generally is in organizations that have collective leadership one individual ends up being the leader even if they don't formally have that title. The difference is instead of becoming leader democratically, by being elected, they emerge on top through force of character, alliances, internal machinations etc and so they are, in practice, less accountable, not more. 

Ok, thanks - your experience, then, is that collective leadership doesn't work because there is always a single leader, whether by rules, or in practice.

I totally disagree (inasmuch as my experience is different), but at least we have a disagreement which is worth discussing in the context of this thread topic. I really didn't want discussion to end at: "Well, the Elections Act says you have to have a Leader", or "constitutional convention", etc. 

No, but my other point remains which is the way our system of parliamentary democracy works is there has to be an individual at some point who is called upon to form a government. Now, that individual doesn't have to be the party leader and, indeed, in various Westminister systems at various times the leader of the governing party has not been the prime minister - for instance India from 2004 to 2104 where Sonia Gandhi was leader of the governing Congress Party but Congress MP Manmohan Singh was prime minister or Britain during the latter part of World War I when Asquith was Liberal Party leader but Lloyd George was Prime Minister of the Liberal-led coalition government. But in the Lloyd George example in particular, he ended up eclipsing Asquith within the Liberal Party and the conflict between the two ended up splitting the party and destroying it for all intents and purposes (in the Congress example Gandhi was party leader but for political reasons didn't think it appropriate to be PM but was pretty much the power behind the throne so that's more of a unique example, 

Unionist

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

The issue is not naming a leader capable of being PM. This is easily done.

It is the centralizing of all the powers presumed to be in that role into one person.

That's correct. And the key word is "presumed". Because in the case of the NDP, it's a big lie, which no member seems willing to challenge.

Quote:
If you list all the functions of a party leader and then split them up differently you can still have all the functions covered along with more than one person in those roles.

That's the problem. Give me a list of the "functions of a party leader" as per the NDP constitution. There are none. They're all ceremonial. There are some statutory functions (like approving candidates who run under the party banner), but even there, the constitution does not allow the leader to make that decision.

Quote:
A party must have a designate for PM ...

I'm not sure what law or regulation provides that - nor what that has to do with leadership of the party itself, which is the topic of this thread. Nor do I know what law says that the PM has to retain confidence of the House. Surely you mean the executive branch - the government - not any individual. Have you ever heard of a House motion expressing confidence or non-confidence in the PM?

The powers of NDP leader are a matter of urban legend. Power resides in convention, and in national council between conventions. The constitution explains how the leader is elected - but doesn't say what s/he can do (other than be a member of the executive).

So I agree with your basic thesis, that other models should be looked at. But I think a healthy starting point is for members who are concerned (presumably there are some) about being subject to an out-of-touch, unaccountable, unconstitutional dictatorship of one person and their entourage, should stand up and say, "This isn't our party - it must stop now - and let's build something better!"

Sean in Ottawa

Unionist wrote:

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

The issue is not naming a leader capable of being PM. This is easily done.

It is the centralizing of all the powers presumed to be in that role into one person.

That's correct. And the key word is "presumed". Because in the case of the NDP, it's a big lie, which no member seems willing to challenge.

Quote:
If you list all the functions of a party leader and then split them up differently you can still have all the functions covered along with more than one person in those roles.

That's the problem. Give me a list of the "functions of a party leader" as per the NDP constitution. There are none. They're all ceremonial. There are some statutory functions (like approving candidates who run under the party banner), but even there, the constitution does not allow the leader to make that decision.

Quote:
A party must have a designate for PM ...

I'm not sure what law or regulation provides that - nor what that has to do with leadership of the party itself, which is the topic of this thread. Nor do I know what law says that the PM has to retain confidence of the House. Surely you mean the executive branch - the government - not any individual. Have you ever heard of a House motion expressing confidence or non-confidence in the PM?

The powers of NDP leader are a matter of urban legend. Power resides in convention, and in national council between conventions. The constitution explains how the leader is elected - but doesn't say what s/he can do (other than be a member of the executive).

So I agree with your basic thesis, that other models should be looked at. But I think a healthy starting point is for members who are concerned (presumably there are some) about being subject to an out-of-touch, unaccountable, unconstitutional dictatorship of one person and their entourage, should stand up and say, "This isn't our party - it must stop now - and let's build something better!"

The functions of the leader are not enumerated in the consitution but it does not mean they do not exist. That theya re not does mean that they can be divided into a team rather than left to an individual.

Now some of these roles we can name generally. These are normally the same person but they need not be: Head of government, Cabinet Chair, Party Leader. And within each party there are jobs the leader is responsible for. These can also be divided up and need not be centralized.

That the constitution does not specifically define the role of PM does not mean it does not exist but it does mean that it is subject to variation and is more flexible than we might think.

According to the Canadian Encyclopedia:

"The prime minister controls the governing party, speaks for it, and after appointment to office has at his or her disposal a large number of patronage appointments with which to reward the party faithful. The prime minister names senators and senior judges for appointment, and appoints and dismisses all members of Cabinet — through the governor general — and decides on their responsibilities.

As chair of Cabinet, the prime minister controls the agenda and discussions at meetings and selects the members of Cabinet committees. Because of these factors, and the convention of party solidarity, the prime minister has great influence over the activities and agenda of Parliament.

The prime minister also enjoys a special relationship with the Crown, as he or she is the only person who can consult with the governor general, and advise the governor general to dissolve or prorogue Parliament and call an election. Political reality, various conventions, and the Constitution sometimes limit the power of the prime minister, who must be wary of offending the various regions of the country, and must be able to conciliate competing factions within the party and the Cabinet, and throughout Canada."

***

But there is a difference between practice and legal necessity. My point is these heads of power and roles that normally are expected to lie in the hands of a PM do not need to. A party could define a different structure assigning others to fill specific roles.

***

A winning party has a person who becomes head of government and that person is invited to form a government. Someone speaks for the party. That someone can be defined to have the role and not be a leader of the party.

These are not necessarily good approaches but dividing up the role is ceratinly possible legally and practically if a party wanted to do so.

Unionist

You're seriously quoting the Canadian Encyclopedia saying this:

Quote:
The prime minister controls the governing party, speaks for it, and after appointment to office has at his or her disposal a large number of patronage appointments with which to reward the party faithful. The prime minister names senators and senior judges for appointment, and appoints and dismisses all members of Cabinet — through the governor general — and decides on their responsibilities.

All that is the purest bullshit. There is no law saying the PM "controls the governing party, speaks for it", etc. Nor is there anything in the NDP constitution saying so. Nor is there any single NDP convention resolution saying so. It is simply the lazy acquiescence of the membership, who don't understand, don't give a shit, or (like me many decades ago) can't find enough allies to give a shit and assert the constitutional and democratic rights of the members.

"Patronage appointments with which to reward the party faithful" - sorry, is that a law? A custom? I can't believe you would uncritically cite crap like this as if it's anything more than a pallid description of the corruption of Canadian democracy, unsupported by any constitutional provision or statute.

Guess what: The PM has no power, in law or under the Constitution, to appoint anyone whatsoever, including senators, or judges, or members of cabinet. Explain to me why Canadians aren't aware of this fact. Why you aren't (or purport not to be). And why we shouldn't open people's eyes and awaken them to the fact that they have power - if only they choose to unite and exercise it.

I'm remembering now why I left the NDP in the 1970s. It was all about, "what did the LEADER say I should be doing? Fuck the convention decisions, that's just a joke to trick the kids. Forget the policies - they're just a wish list. Which LEADER is sexy and charming enough to win an election?"

I'm hoping someone here - besides of course epaulo - is interested in discussing whether or not it's too late for the NDP to decide against the superstar LEADER dictator model, and actually rage against the machine for a change. If it's too late - then wrap up the corpse and treat it with some posthumous respect.

 

Sean in Ottawa

Unionist wrote:

You're seriously quoting the Canadian Encyclopedia saying this:

Quote:
The prime minister controls the governing party, speaks for it, and after appointment to office has at his or her disposal a large number of patronage appointments with which to reward the party faithful. The prime minister names senators and senior judges for appointment, and appoints and dismisses all members of Cabinet — through the governor general — and decides on their responsibilities.

All that is the purest bullshit. There is no law saying the PM "controls the governing party, speaks for it", etc. Nor is there anything in the NDP constitution saying so. Nor is there any single NDP convention resolution saying so. It is simply the lazy acquiescence of the membership, who don't understand, don't give a shit, or (like me many decades ago) can't find enough allies to give a shit and assert the constitutional and democratic rights of the members.

"Patronage appointments with which to reward the party faithful" - sorry, is that a law? A custom? I can't believe you would uncritically cite crap like this as if it's anything more than a pallid description of the corruption of Canadian democracy, unsupported by any constitutional provision or statute.

Guess what: The PM has no power, in law or under the Constitution, to appoint anyone whatsoever, including senators, or judges, or members of cabinet. Explain to me why Canadians aren't aware of this fact. Why you aren't (or purport not to be). And why we shouldn't open people's eyes and awaken them to the fact that they have power - if only they choose to unite and exercise it.

I'm remembering now why I left the NDP in the 1970s. It was all about, "what did the LEADER say I should be doing? Fuck the convention decisions, that's just a joke to trick the kids. Forget the policies - they're just a wish list. Which LEADER is sexy and charming enough to win an election?"

I'm hoping someone here - besides of course epaulo - is interested in discussing whether or not it's too late for the NDP to decide against the superstar LEADER dictator model, and actually rage against the machine for a change. If it's too late - then wrap up the corpse and treat it with some posthumous respect.

 

Are you misunderstanding on purpose or is this an accident?

And seriously if you are going to insist that a role, function or practice to exist must be stated explicitly in law then there is little point wasting any time in a conversation with you about any like subjects. Things can exist without a requirement that they continue to exist. I have generally agreed with your point on this but your poor reading is leading you to argue with points that are actually not opposite your own.

There are huge distinctions between what is normal practice, as described and what is required. But I said all that and you just sidestepped the entire point like you were playing dodgeball.

I have agreed through all this that these roles and functions are not necessary or essential just becuase they are established practice -- but don't try to tell me that they do not exist becuase they are not enumerated in constitutional law or party resolution.

My point has been that this distinction means that a party could do things in a different way -- and that the practice is real but that it does not need to be followed just because it has been -- precisely becuase it is not a constitutional or legal requirement. Many, many things happen that are not requirements. They may even be precedents, but I have not argued that all precedents are  binding as it often they are not.

Now, before you run off claiming stuff is bullshit, please read a little more carefully and perhaps think a little more about what you are reading before you go off attacking an argument that is essentially in line with your.

The Canaidan encyclopedia is a description of what exists -- the constitution of the country and of parties set up what is required. There is a huge difference. Much of what Canadians take for granted is non-binding convention. So of course it won't be in written law.

 

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..happy new year!

..the last place i worked that was unionized was around 10 yrs ago. i’ve been mostly retired ever since. the union was bcgeu and the new contract at the time included a new wage category for new employees and an extended period whereby over the years you could, theoretically, almost reach the level of pay of the existing, grandfathered workers. there was a trend towards a lot of part time so it was therory only and most would never reach top pay. i was living in penticton at the time and if i wanted to vote where there was a meeting i would have to drive to kelowna which was about an hour away. i did that and when i got to the place found that it was an all day meeting. there were only about 3 people listening to the justification of this contract by maybe 5 union staff members. i asked questions and made my points but it futile. i was treated with respect but the contract was being recommended and there was absolutely no way that was ever going to change. i am telling you this and also with my other posts how entrenched this system is.

..if you want a collaborative approach to leadership of the ndp ideas are not the problem. ideas have never been the problem. how to cut through/alter this entrenchment is the key. there were 1500 cupw members in the vancouver local when i was there and that was even before they amalgamated with the letter carriers and couriers. the numbers were higher for toronto and montreal and these 3 cities were where the wildcats were coming from that made substantial gains but also altered the union relationship internally. it produced a better democracy. having large numbers of working folk in plant makes it much easier to organize. 

..that was not possible for the situation i described. we were working for many organization in many places. the work places were small and this also was the case in the larger cities. so it wouldn’t be the correct analysis to say look all that needs to happen is that the workers get together and change the system. i see the ndp membership in the similar/same situation. the organizational difficulty would be enormous..even if there was a will to do so. so it would not be the right analysis to blame the workers in the case of the union nor the ndp membership. nor is it a correct analysis to say that unions are democratic no more than you can say that the ndp is. the culprit is structure.

..i suggest that the task of changing the ndp or the unions from within will take more time than we have. there is a better chance of influencing this from the outside and in a timely manner. it starts by coming together with folks, here in canada, across the country, that are already collaborating. and we all know this is happening around the climate justice/indigenous/pipeline struggles. this means showing the way forward and not waiting around for the right leaders to come forward.

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