February 5th, 2016
Since last week, I have had the honour to serve as the NDP’s National Director. It was with great humility that I accepted this interim role and all of its challenges. One challenge will be to ensure the success of the party’s convention, set for April 8th to 10th in Edmonton.
I have been an NDP member for 23 years. I enthusiastically participated in the last eight federal election campaigns – as a candidate, regional campaign director, press secretary and political advisor.
It has been quite the roller-coaster! After the difficult 1993 election, I experienced the party’s revival in 1997 with our breakthrough in Atlantic Canada, our growth in the 2000s, the orange wave in Quebec followed by Jack’s untimely death in 2011, Tom Mulcair’s election as leader and last fall’s marathon campaign.
In the coming months, our party will once again face significant challenges.
For the first time in our history, the NDP came very close to forming Canada’s government. While our party was considered a credible and viable option by Canadians, we were unable to close the deal. We now have to understand what happened, why voters turned away from us in the last stretch of the campaign. We must diagnose the problems and learn from this experience.
Our leader, Tom Mulcair, has entrusted Party President Rebecca Blaikie to do a comprehensive analysis of the last election campaign. Rebecca is traveling all over Canada to meet with, and listen to, as many people as possible. I hope you will have the opportunity to share your perspective with her.
In 2015, we knocked on more doors and met more voters than ever before. We raised a record 18.6 million dollars – thanks to your generosity. We had more women and Aboriginal candidates than any other party. Our platform was ambitious and progressive, with binding greenhouse gas reduction targets, a national affordable child care program, and a $15 an hour federal minimum wage. Yet, we lost.
We were unable to convince enough Canadians to put their trust in us. We made some wrong decisions and bad choices. Our tactics didn’t work as well as we hoped.
However, we were able to make a comeback in Saskatchewan. We made gains in British Columbia. One Quebecer out of four voted for the NDP. 3.5 million Canadians from coast to coast to coast. It is clear that we have changed the country’s political landscape for good: the NDP is now seen as a true contender for government. It will be up to us to convince voters in 2019.
In the last election. Canadians voted for change, and they expect changes to happen quickly. Sadly, the Liberal Party has already started backtracking on its promises.
Thankfully, our 44 member caucus forms a robust, progressive opposition in Ottawa. I know that we can count on each and every one of them to fight for our communities, families, and jobs.
You and I know they will continue to fight for a universal and free health care system. They will continue to fight against climate change and to protect our lakes and rivers. They will continue to stand up for middle class and lower income families.
This country faces a lot of issues. Too many children are living in poverty. Corporations still do not pay their fair share. Pensions are being raided. The big banks kill jobs while rewarding their executives with millions of dollars in bonuses. Pay equity has yet to be achieved.
There will be passionate debates over the coming weeks about what needs to be done and how to get it done. This is a sign of our party’s strength and vitality as we start thinking about what our social-democratic offer to Canadians will be in 2019. I look forward to seeing you all at convention in Edmonton. If you haven’t already done so, you can register today:
Let’s move forward. Together.
Canada’s New Democrats