the latest leftist hand-wringingsession unfolded last Saturday. It was the conference of the NDP Socialist Caucus, a band of hardy party activists who want to push their fellow members sharply to the left.However, as at other recent events of this kind, much of the conference's attention was consumed by the New Politics Initiative, a bid by some within the party and some outside to transform the NDP into a new, unapologetically left-wing party that would be more intimately involved with social movements like the anti-globalization brigades that rocked Quebec City.
The conference passed a resolution to endorse the NPI, although caucus co-chair Barry Weisleder says he has reservations about the initiative.
For one thing, he says, the NPI has endorsed the principle of "one member/one vote," which is shaping up to be an explosive issue at the crucial NDP convention in November.
The NDP has always carried on its business through a system of conventions where delegates selected by riding associations, affiliated unions and official party caucuses get to cast the votes. Now there's a move to convert to a system of one member, one vote.
"It sounds democratic," says Weisleder. "But you can't have an informed vote unless you have a collective discussion (at a convention)."
Weisleder also looks askance at the NPI's decision to slow down its timeline so that it will only ask the November NDP convention to approve in principle the creation of a new party. "My fear is that the NPI will simply fold into a campaign for the election of Svend Robinson as leader."
But NPI member Judy Rebick says, "People in the NDP thought this (having to make a decision this November) was a gun to their head. And people outside the NDP were telling us that if you want to start a party, that's really different, we need time."