I have been a member of the New Democratic Party since 1968. I have not only paid dues, but worked in elections all over western Canada. I feel this cumulative experience qualifies me to speak to what has happened to my party.
Frankly, it is a mess. The bureaucrats who run the party from provincial office are doctrinaire zealots whose devotion to a particular kind of politics has led them to interfere more and more with what the actual membership want. A useful example is the equity mandate, which was passed many conventions ago as a temporary measure to encourage more women and minorities to become active in nomination races. Sounds good, doesn’t it?
The problem is that this denies the individual members the right to nominate the best available candidate if that member has the misfortune to be a white male heterosexual. Provincial office routinely denies such individuals the basic ability to even put their names forward. Today the NDP would not allow Tommy Douglas to stand for office in this riding, unless he was dating Stanley Knowles, because this is an equity seat. The party managers have decreed that every riding currently held by a male MUST nominate an equity candidate when the incumbent retires.
This afternoon my constituency was allowed to choose between three women. At least two more qualified and experienced men were denied their right to run. This leaves me with a decision to make: do I hold my nose and vote for an inferior candidate, supporting this discriminatory policy, or cast my ballot somewhere else?
Some will no doubt argue that this policy is required to achieve equity. If that is so, how have the provincial Liberals elected a caucus with more women and disabled members when they have no nomination barriers? When we lose this riding next May, will the party mandarins in Vancouver be held accountable?