in recent NDP conventions
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The Huron-Bruce New Democratic Party (NDP) has had an incredibly busy spring thus far with delegates attending both the Federal Leadership Convention in March in Toronto and the Provincial Policy Convention in Hamilton April 14-16.
The Leadership Convention was a highly-charged event with seven candidates coming forward to vie for the position of federal leader. The slate was perhaps the most diverse group ever seen in Canada with regards to cultural background, age and gender and it was exciting to be part of the process that took four votes to elect the dynamic and experienced new leader Thomas Mulcair.
As with all NDP conventions, several other NDP leaders were highlighted throughout the event. This included the inspirational Greg Selinger, NDP premier of Manitoba, who talked about the forward-thinking policies of his government in its long mandate in the province. An evening tribute to Jack Layton by his wife, Olivia Chow, his children, Sarah and Mike, and a number of friends, was an inspiration to all delegates to carry on the legacy of the former leader.
The NDP Policy Convention, held in Hamilton last week, reaffirmed the leadership of Andrea Horwath, saw members elected to the new NDP Executive, and brought forward policy resolutions.
Huron-Bruce NDP was very active in bringing forth a number of resolutions on its own or in conjunction with other ridings. The Huron-Bruce primary focus was on energy-related policies that would reduce reliance on industrial wind and provide alternatives to fossil fuels.
Huron-Bruce called on a closure of coal-fired plants and conversion of some to ethical biomass or biogas, and the development of a North–South grid that would take advantage of existing under-utilized hydroelectric plants.
Huron-Bruce NDP also asked for a moratorium on Industrial-scale wind developments, support for incentives for small-scale wind and the removal of restrictions on the sale of electricity supplied by battery banks.
Due to time constraints, these did not make it to the convention floor but will be brought forward to Provincial Council to act upon.
Huron-Bruce NDP’s resolution establishing a commission to look at harmonizing federal, provincial and municipal farming regulations, was carried.
Other Huron-Bruce resolutions which were passed, included a ban on hospital fees charged to seniors awaiting nursing home spaces, instituting a program of in-home supports for seniors, overhauling the NDP housing policy, and undertaking a study of the Legal Expense Insurance industry to ensure all Ontarians have access to representation and justice.
Several other agriculture-related resolutions, such as removing animal welfare policing and enforcement from the OSPCA, did not make it to the floor. But Huron-Bruce’s resolution to restore corporate taxes in Ontario to a rate of 14 per cent and enact refundable tax credits to companies creating permanent jobs, was unanimously approved.
A companion resolution from Brant also passed. It stated that businesses leaving the province within 10 years from receiving government incentives, would be liable to repayment of those incentives.
The whole convention overwhelmingly condemned the Drummond report and supported Andrea Horwath with her conditions in negotiations with the Liberal government to avoid an election.
An NDP policy was created that the voting age be reduced to age 16. And the convention called on the elimination of LHINS (Local Health Integrated Networks), the creation of not-for-profit birthing centres and amending the Vital Statistics Act to include transgendered persons.
A number of labour resolutions included the assurance of privacy being extended to unionized workers, maintaining the right to strike, working to add defined pension plans to workers’ contracts and maintaining collective bargaining rights for Zellers employees.
One highlight of the convention was an appearance by K’NAAN, an internationally-known rapper and singer, who spoke with a delegation of youth about how to be more involved in affecting change. K’NAAN also favoured the convention with several musical numbers including his signature “Wavin’ Flag.”
Adrian Dix, leader of the BC NDP, and Lorraine Michael, leader of the Newfoundland NDP, were inspirational speakers. (Incidentally, in Newfoundland the provincial portion of the HST has now been removed from home heating!)
A question-and-answer showcase of all 17 caucus members, hosted by MP Andrew Cash, allowed members to find out a little more about the NDP MPPs. Sid Ryan from the Canadian Federation of Labour and several other labour leaders also made appearances.
And the grand finale to the convention was a speech by Thomas Mulcair, new leader of the Federal Opposition. This was his first speech to an NDP gathering since his election, and he did not disappoint.
He was clear and consistent in explaining people-centred policy direction to the assembly and it was obvious that he will be a measured and consistent force in the House when dealing with the current government. He asserted that his first goal is to “ensure that future generations have a better life than we do, and isn’t that why we’re all in politics?”
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Sunday, April 22, 2012