Ontario Ginger Project/Democratic Socialist Election Campaign Convention 2011 Announced

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Michael Laxer Michael Laxer's picture
Ontario Ginger Project/Democratic Socialist Election Campaign Convention 2011 Announced

Sisters & Brothers;
We want your resoultions and ideas

As you may be aware, in late 2008, The Ginger Project was founded with the intention of promoting a permanent and evolving Democratic Socialist electoral platform within the context of the ONDP leadership campaign. The NDP, alone among all Western Socialist and Social Democratic parties, has failed to adopt and publish a comprehensive, evolving platform that exists both during and between elections, and we felt that this needed to be rectified.

We continue to wish to stimulate discussions relating to issues of both socialist democracy as well as public policy. This will help us to promote a more leftist and socially progressive agenda for our Province.

Now, with the decision by the ONDP to cancel its constitutionally mandated convention in 2011, the ONLY existing opportunity to see a possible debate within the ONDP regarding a leftist electoral platform prior to the next election, the Ginger Project feels that that discussion, especially in light of the profound challenges facing the working people of Ontario, still needs to take place.

As a result, we have decided to hold a Democratic Socialist Election Platform Convention (Ginger Convention) in early 2011.

We want to hold the most inclusive, democratic and policy oriented socialist electoral platform convention possible. A large part of that is resolutions from socialists and citizens, as well as the broadest possible delegate participation from both within and outside the ONDP.

The first Ginger Project Convention Steering Committee meeting was held recently. The full update is printed below.

As stated below, all resolutions presented will be published for consideration and discussion and will be voted on if moved at the convention on the floor.

Every resolution passed will be incorporated into the full Democratic Socialist Election Campaign Platform Proposal to push forward with during the 2011 provincial election. Any part of the existing Ginger Platform will be modified and altered as needed. This platform can be found at www.ndpleft.blogspot.com

As such, the ONLY limitations are that resolutions must be possible in a provincial context, and that they must not violate our fundamental opposition to sexism, racism and homophobia.

The democratic socialist election agenda begins with you. Whether you want to propose as an association, a group or an individual you can make a difference in developing the full socialist platform the province has lacked.

Your voices will be heard.

Convention 2011 Update

With input from those present as well as from others who sent their ideas, the first steering committee meeting was held to begin the planning of the Democratic Socialist Election Platform Convention to be held in 2011.

A number of matters were discussed, including initial speaker's lists, venue options, panel forums, and other related logistical matters, but the most exciting and significant immediate developments to come out of our collective discussions were in the areas of convention resolutions and delegate methods, as well as in the area of group affiliations to the Ginger Project.


One of the key ideas behind the convention is to hold a convention that reflects how a truly democratic socialist party would want to approach formulating a full, well-thought out and comprehensive platform that incorporates ALL of the resolutions passed by the membership at the convention.

Beginning now on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=747025992&ref=profile#!/group.php?gid=33162815660) and at the blogsite www.ndpleft.blogspot.com we will be publishing all resolutions that those who seek to participate in the 2011 convention bring forward. These will be left up for discussion and review until the convention itself. A website specifically devoted to the convention and resolutions will be launched as soon as possible. At the convention every single resolution that has been proposed will go to a vote as long as it is properly moved on the floor. All resolutions passed will be fully incorporated into the Democratic Socialist Platform Document that will come out of the convention and will be put forward in advance of the 2011 Ontario election.

No resolutions passed will be left to vanish into some party vault, never to heard from again.

So bring your ideas. You will be heard.


The convention will be open to all. Every like-minded person will be welcome to register for convention and will have full voting rights.

In addition, we will be inviting, in writing, all NDP Riding Associations in Ontario to send delegates and join the discussion. To equalize and incorporate areas that have been neglected, every riding association will be given the opportunity to register up to twelve delegates as official delegates.

As well, the Project will be actively seeking to work with movements and groups outside of the party and the established political mainstream. We want your ideas and energy, and we want to work with you to turn those ideas into an electoral vision to challenge established politics in Ontario. Groups wishing to affiliate with the Project or convention will also be entitled to delegates.

The Ginger Project is open to everyone equally, not just to those we can control or whose message we wish to co-opt. It is time for all the voices on the left to be heard.

Finally, the committee came to the conclusion that the convention should be held in Toronto on the weekends of either March 4-6 or April 29, 30 & May 1 2011.

We also are formulating plans to hold steering committee meetings in St. Catharines, Hamilton, the Kitchener-Waterloo area and elsewhere. If you would like to be involved in any future meetings, or to host one on your community, please contact us. The date of the next Toronto steering committee meeting will be announced shortly.

We look forward to working with you to build Convention 2011!



Good news. Best wishes for this hopeful and timely initiative


I'll say the same thing I said in the BC Ginger thread:

Best of luck, but as a rule I tend to not support these "take back the NDP" initiatives, not because I think they're too left wing or going to hurt the NDP, but because I think they're doomed to failure. There have been similar initiatives in the past, and they have all been unsuccessful. I just don't see the NDP as having the intellectual or moral backbone to stand up to neoliberalism, and I think the "return to its socialist roots" shtick is played out and ignoring the history of the NDP. The Regina Manifesto was a dead letter at least by the time Tommy Douglas got elected, and the NDP hasn't been socialist since maybe the very early days of the CCF.

Honestly, I think what we need to be doing is focusing way more on building strong grassroots movements and radical bases than trying to influence the NDP from within.


Michael Laxer Michael Laxer's picture

Actually, I don't entirely disagree.

This is why the Ginger Project is no longer actually affiliated with the ONDP and why the convention is being held outside the party, due to the party's decision to cancel its own convention.

I remain a member of the NDP, but there is little question that within the Ontario context broader pressure is needed to force any type of discussion of Socialist politics in the next Ontario election.


Hi Michael,

I came to one of the earlier meetings, and I'm broadly sympathetic to what the Ginger Project is trying to do. A question that was and is rattling around in my head is: The idea of a convention with 'no resolution left behind' and so forth is all fine and good, but to what end? Okay, a platform comes out of this, but what then? How do we get the NDP to even take a look at it, never mind incorporate parts/all of it?


Dan Gallagher

Michael Laxer wrote:
This is why the Ginger Project is no longer actually affiliated with the ONDP....

No longer affiliated with the ONDP? Was it ever affiliated with the ONDP? If so, please tell us the nature of this affiliation?

Michael Laxer Michael Laxer's picture

Hi Edmund,


Thanks for your message.


You have raised what is a significant and important issue.


The answer, to a degree, remains open. The fact is that the ONDP has chosen to cancel the last chance that we, as members of the democratic socialist left, have to have a broad, frank and public debate about the issues facing working people, women, members of the LGBT community, and so many others in this province.


We can only do a couple of things about this. We can protest these events internally and see little to no result, or we can attempt to take the process outside of the "great umbrella" and try to include the many on the left who feel alienated and disenfranchised by the NDP. We can try to hold the type of convention that the party always should have, but never has.


The election document that arises from this will be, frankly, more broadly democratic and legitimate than any of the "five-point" watered down crap the party has presented as a "platform" since the "Agenda for the People" fiasco.


Assuming we have a successful convention, and all indications are very positive, especially given that the convention is almost a year away, we then take the document and confront the supposed parliamentary wing of the socialist movement with it.


If they cannot accept a document of this type, from New Democrats and others, if they cannot embrace something broader than glib talking points, then we will have established that an outside force is necessary and that the party cannot be seen as the sole legitimate vehicle for socialist democratic change anymore.


Either way, a successful convention will force a resolution of these important issues.

Michael Laxer Michael Laxer's picture

Hi Dan,

Thanks for the comment.

The Ginger Project initially grew out of the ONDP leadership process.

It participants have been, until now, entirely ONDP members or sympathizers, and have included members of the ONDP executive, NDP MPPs, present and former federal and provincial candidates, executive members of ONDP riding associations across the province, etc. It has held entirely public, well-documented and totally open and democratic meetings.

All of these ONDP members have, and many continue to, participate in the Ginger Project.

The Project was born of the NDP and would never have existed but for our commitment to trying to work with the NDP.

As such, the Ginger Project existed entirely under the auspices of the party until recently. That has now changed!


The brush fire continues to spread I see.  Looks like you've already moved further than most of us though.   Interesting. 


Sadly, I'm going to be bowing out of Ontario politics when I move to Rhode Island on July 1st. But I thought I would pass along a few thoughts:

It seems to me that the Ginger Project is conflating process and policy in a way that makes some of us hard-left pragmatists uncomfortable. Because of the structure of Canadian politics and the absence of primaries, caucuses not conventions should be where party decisions are made. I feel much more comfortable with a caucus, who have received far more votes than the party has members making major decisions about election platforms. That's not to say resolutions from conventions are not important but I just don't buy the supremacy of convention theory on which the Ginger Project-Socialist Caucus alliance is basing its thinking.

We leftists have to struggle to advocate not for government by the busybodies but government by the people. Government by the people is not being threatened by conventions losing their power. It is being threatened by caucuses losing their power to leaders' offices and party offices. We may be disappointed with our caucus right now but if we are to challenge the way in which power is concentrating unhealthily in Canadian politics, we need to look past the current personnel and focus our analysis on the structure of how things should work in a genuinely democratic system.

If we make this issue about process and quasi-licit outmanoeuvring of our side in party votes and calling for institutional reforms to fix our particular grievances, we will be getting farther from not closer to our goal of putting forward a platform in the next election that speaks for Canadian socialism.

I wish the Ginger Project the best of luck with its convention next year and its organizing in between. But I would like to suggest that these efforts focus on two things: (a) finding unapologetic socialists who will run for the party (b) finding candidates who will not be cowed by head office directives regarding messaging and actually speak in favour of socialism during elections. This will, of course, be extra difficult with the party's new pre-crime division (thanks polunatic) knocking people out of nomination races before they can enter but it remains possible. It is all fine and good to have candidates who are socialists in private but they aren't much good if they run on a platform of criticizing taxes, inveighing against government waste and offering everyone cheap gas. The battle for the NDP will not be decided in policy conventions; it will be decided in nomination meeting across the province.


Bet Yanez isn't gettig much sleep tonight...

Sunday Hat