they lost in their bid to convince the NDP to close up shop, but they're not going away. In fact, it could be that the grassroots lefty New Politics Initiative (NPI) will have an even greater impact at the party's next convention -- where a new leader will likely be chosen -- than they did at the last.The group hosts a conference Friday and Saturday (January 18-19) at OISE (252 Bloor West; agenda and other info at http://www.newpolitics.ca), where they will be joined by writer Naomi Klein, anti-globalizer Jaggi Singh and NDP MP Svend Robinson.
Skeptics in attendance will muse about the uselessness of electoral politics, and of the NDP in particular. But in a fit of collegiality, the party has reached out and installed three NPI members on a key committee mandated to implement elements of the party's renewal plan. A rival plan was presented at the party convention in Winnipeg in November, but the NPI lost that vote.
Newly elected NDP president Adam Giambrone says the executive has gone out of its way to give NPIers a real role in decision-making. "They're only three out of 24, but because the committee will take decisions on the basis of consensus, they could have more impact than their numbers,' he says.
Says NPI organizer Judy Rebick, "It's the first time in NDP history that I know of where they've recognized a tendency as a positive contribution.'
If the group hangs together, it could play a pivotal role in the upcoming race to choose a new party leader. Under the new "one member, one vote" system, each card-carrier gets a vote for leader, giving a distinct advantage to on-the-ground activists. The big question then becomes who they'll support.