the new politics initiative held its Toronto coming-out party this week. About 100 people showed up at the 519 Church Community Centre to hear how the NDP can be transformed from the sad sack of Canadian politics into a contender. A show of hands identified the mix of NDPers and non-party members at the NPI's first official public event in Toronto as about half and half. After remarks by Judy Rebick and Dave Meslin, the meeting broke into five smaller groups.
In my group, NDPers and non-NDPers agreed it was hard to evaluate the NPI: "It hasn't done very much yet, except have a news conference." There was consensus on the need for the NPI to assume more of a structure and on the fact that the project faces an uphill battle because the cliques controlling the NDP will not step aside willingly.
But there was skepticism among some of the younger hands. "No party has truly been there for me," one said. "The NPI might become that. But can we sustain the energy?"
The meeting ended with the selection of four working groups: NDP outreach (including preparation of resolutions for this fall's convention), general outreach, visiting lefty events to spread the word, and policy development. There will be meetings in five centres across Canada in the fall -- including one in Toronto.