Ontario NDP brass violate party democracy

<!–[if !mso]> st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } <![endif]–>On Thursday, September 1, Barry Weisleder, chairperson of the NDP Socialist Caucus, won the nomination to be the NDP candidate in Thornhill constituency, just north of Toronto. Two days later Darlene Lawson, the Ontario NDP provincial secretary, ‘rescinded’ the democratic nomination, which occurred at the best-attended meeting of that NDP riding association in decades.

What was the excuse for the punitive action? Lawson said it was an article by Weisleder mildly critical of the party platform and leadership written weeks before he sought the nomination. It was nearly a month before Lawson gave his bid for the candidacy her stamp of approval at a meeting held in her office on August 10. The only thing that changed between August 10 and September 3 is that Weisleder won the Thornhill nomination.

Unfortunately, this attack on party democracy is not an isolated incident. It is being challenged. Heading up this effort is the Campaign to Restore Democracy in the Ontario NDP (CREDO NDP). There are many ways you can help.

How to respond to the attack on party democracy?
1. Vigorously oppose the multiple attacks on party democracy being waged by Ontario NDP officials. Urge all New Democrats to protest the removal of the democratically elected candidate in Thornhill, Ontario. NDP and union members, indeed everyone concerned about democracy in the workers’ movement, should send e-mail messages, letters, faxes, and make telephone calls of protest to Darlene Lawson at 101 Richmond St. E., and to the office of Ontario Leader Andrea Horwath at Queen’s Park.

Telephone:  416-591-5455, ext. 2245          fax: 416-599-4820             E-mail:  dlawson@on.ndp.ca

2. Endorse and join CREDO. The NDP Socialist Caucus, along with many friends and allies, is launching the Campaign to Restore Democracy in the Ontario NDP (CREDO NDP) as a broad, common front. The purpose of the Campaign is to hold Ontario NDP officials accountable for rescinding the democratic NDP nomination in Thornhill, and to expose and reverse the attack on party democracy occurring on all levels. After the October 6 Ontario election, this effort will be launched publicly. It has already reached hundreds of New Democrats through direct personal and inter net contact.

The party bureaucracy’s decision to rescind Barry Weisleder’s nomination follows the ugly incident in Toronto‘s Etobicoke North constituency. There, on August 17, NDP officials did not allow Diana Andrews (a Black, lesbian, elementary school teacher) to run for the NDP nomination, ostensibly because she is involved in a conflict with her union leadership.

It also follows the bureaucratic overturn of the elections held at the Ontario New Democratic Youth convention in Fall 2010 by party officials, and the cancellation of the constitutionally mandated ONDP convention that should have occurred in Spring 2011.

Before that, the Ontario party Leader ordered NDP MPP Michael Prue not to speak at an open hearing on the issue of public funding for Catholic schools. The hearing, attended by over one hundred New Democrats on March 12, 2010 at OISE U of Toronto, was organized by the NDP Socialist Caucus and was held when the party was openly reviewing its position on the question and seeking public in-put.

Most recently, the Preamble to the federal NDP Constitution, which still includes the word “socialist” after a bitter, highly publicized struggle at the federal convention, has disappeared entirely from the federal party web site.

3. CREDO invites New Democrats to spread the word about this campaign for accountability and party democracy via e-mail, phone calls, web sites, and Facebook. It invites everyone to attend an open public meeting, at a time and place to be announced, featuring a panel of activists who will speak to the incidents mentioned above. For the latest news, contact: info@ndpsociaists.ca

4. NDP members will exercise the right to appeal the party brass decision to rescind the Thornhill nomination, and continue to seek accountability and justice in this matter at the next Ontario NDP Provincial Council meeting on November 19, 2011 – indeed, all the way to the April 12-15, 2012 Ontario NDP Convention.

> The article above was written by Elizabeth Byce.