NDPers were to have had a chance to respond to a long-awaited report on party renewal a couple of weeks ago, but the attacks in the U.S. caused the gathering to be postponed.So a meeting at U of T Saturday became the first occasion for party members to hear and respond to recommendations of a committee set up after last year's devastating federal election loss.
The party's lone MP from Ontario, Joe Comartin, summed up the feedback received from nearly 10,000 members. Too little vision. Too much bureaucracy. No clear voice. Too wishy-washy.
"The one thing we heard over and over again is that we have to be bold," Comartin says. "The best way to reach political obscurity is to try to be all things to all people."
But the report's recommendations don't offer policies that could give the party the new lease on life it's looking for. The report sticks instead to the macro level: "adopt democracy, equity and sustainability as core principles." It also recommends strengthening relations with social partners and becoming "a voice for and with youth."
One of the few younger participants, Andil Gosine, told the meeting that the party has to sharpen its message. He recalled seeing a TV ad during the last federal election that was so bad he thought it must have been a spoof. Alas, it was an NDP announcement.
For all that, Judy Rebick, one of the guiding lights behind the New Politics Initiative, the group trying to build a more dynamic left-wing party on the bones of the NDP, was buoyed.
"The question will be how (recommendations on building a better relationship with the left) will be carried out, given the lack of credibility the party has right now."