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I’ve been at the federal NDP convention in Edmonton for a little over a day. It’s inevitable at national gatherings like these ones that you spend a good chunk of time running into old friends and campaign buddies in the hallways. (It’s equally inevitable that those run-ins involve bear hugs, selfies, high fives or a combination of the three.)
And from outside the convention centre, a lot of people have decided that this weekend should be defined by where delegates stand on the mandated (as in, we do one at every convention) leadership review. But as I bear hugged, selfied and high-fived my way through the convention, my friends weren’t asking me about how I’m going to vote during the leadership review. They wanted to know about what kind of work my local team has been doing, and the state of play of Yukon politics ahead of this fall’s territorial election.
We’ve been having good, honest and exciting discussions about the future. Even though the fall election didn’t go our way, people want to talk about the strategies that will help us bounce back: empowering rank-and-file New Democrats to be more effective advocates; a strong progressive offer that speaks to Canadians who believe in fairness; and a return to the community organizing that made the NDP a powerful party within our progressive movement.
As I wound through the convention hall, there has been such a sense of optimism and excitement about the opportunities that the party has to build our place in that movement. Both of the people running to replace Rebecca Blaikie as party president, Elaine Michaud and Marit Styles, are campaigning on some form of renewal and movement politics that will open a new chapter in the NDP story.
So while it would be easy to call this convention a referendum on Tom Mulcair, it goes so much deeper than that. Right now, there are 1,700 New Democrats in the same building talking frankly about how to build a party that fights for Canadians when the Other Guys are more interested in helping their friends.
So all in all, Yukon’s doing great. I have a feeling the NDP is going to make it alright too.