NDP convention: A new preamble is approved

New Democrats move beyond, but not quite past, socialism

After a brief, but spirited, debate and some amount of procedural squabbling, New Democrats approved a new preamble to their party’s constitution this afternoon. The final vote was 960 to 188. Here is the complete (and amended) text.

Canada is a great country, one of the hopes of the world. New Democrats are Canadians who believe we can be a better one — a country of greater equality, justice, and opportunity. We can build sustainable prosperity, and a society that shares its benefits more fairly. We can look after our seniors. We can offer better futures for our children. We can do our part to save the world’s environment. New Democrats work together to these ends for the sake of our fellow citizens and in the interests of all of humanity.

New Democrats are proud of our political and activist heritage, and our long record of visionary, practical, and successful governments. That heritage and that record have distinguished and inspired our party since the creation of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation in 1933, and the founding of the New Democratic Party in 1961.

New Democrats seek a future which brings together the best of the insights and objectives of Canadians who, within the social democratic and democratic socialist traditions, have worked through farmer, labour, co-operative, feminist, human rights and environmental movements, First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples, to build a more just, equal, and sustainable Canada within a global community dedicated to the same goals.

New Democrats celebrate Canada’s diversity and the deep histories, traditions and aspirations of all of its peoples. New Democrats believe in an intercultural integration model based on solidarity and harmonious exchanges among individuals of differing cultures.

New Democrats believe in freedom and democracy, and in a positive role for democratically elected and accountable Parliaments, legislatures and the governments responsible to them.

New Democrats affirm a role for government in helping to create the conditions for sustainable prosperity. We believe in a rules based economy, nationally and globally, in which governments have the power to address the limitations of the market in addressing the common good, by having the power to act in the public interest, for social and economic justice, and for the integrity of the environment.

New Democrats belong to the family of other progressive democratic political parties that govern successfully in many countries around the world. In co-operation with like minded political parties and governments, New Democrats are committed to working together for peace, international co-operation, and the common good of all – the common good being our fundamental purpose as a movement and as a party

Here is the old preamble.




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NDP convention: A new preamble is approved

  1. I like it, except for the grammatical error in the first sentence of the third paragraph. “New Democrats seek a future which brings together” should be “New Democrats seek a future that brings together”

  2. A leopard doesn’t change it’s spots.

  3. I’m sure I won’t be the nly person to note that it took a two-thirds majority to make this change to the party’s constitution, but the party thinks 50% plus one vote is enough to start Quebec on the road to independence.

  4. Today, at the NDP Convention, I attended the
    vote and adoption of the new preamble. I admit that I had reservations
    about the then-proposed preamble (now adopted)
    but I also had reservations about the then-current preamble (now
    replaced by the new preamble). I initially attempted to put forward an
    alternative preamble to both the then-current preamble and then-proposed
    preamble that I thought was clearer and easy to understand. I
    decided to settle for support for a friendly amendment of one sentence
    to the
    then-proposed preamble, that was put forward by Tom Vouloumanos that
    received the support of several NDP MPs including Irene Matthyssen on
    describing the NDP as being committed to
    a democratic economy and a mixed economy, commitments have been put
    forward in practice by social democrats in Scandinavia, Australia, and
    elsewhere. Unfortunately it was literally at the time that Tom
    Vouloumanos stepped up to the microphone to put this amendment forward,
    that we ran out of time, as someone requested that a vote be held on the
    then-proposed preamble. I believe would have easily been passed if the
    time hadn’t
    run out. I spoke with Tom Vouloumanos about it afterwards, and he is
    confident that this friendly amendment to the now-adopted preamble can
    be put forward at the next convention and be passed.

    I had some reservations about the structure of the new preamble
    and a bit of concern on the direction of the party moving overtly to a
    Third Way position. However I met and had a discussion with one of the leading figures who
    drafted the new preamble and they said that “Third Way is old news”
    and in the conversation showed that they were strongly critical of a number of Third Way British Prime Minister
    Tony Blair’s economic policies.

    I was
    personally greatly relieved by this statement regarding criticism of
    elements of the Third Way by this leading figure who drafted the new
    preamble. Although I appreciate Tony Blair’s efforts to move public
    image of socialism of social democrats away from economically unviable
    mass nationalization of industry ideas of the mid-1940s British Labour
    Party, I am deeply critical of the Blair government failing to put
    forward a coherent alternative to neoliberalism, and especially Blair’s
    failure to learn from the viable alternative to neoliberalism that is
    the democratic mixed economy model of Australia’s Bob Hawke Labor Party
    government that brought workers directly into economic decision-making,
    and won multiple elections on this vision of a democratic mixed economy
    in the 1980s at a time when other social democratic parties were
    struggling to fight against the neoliberalism promoted by Margaret
    Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, and Brian Mulroney.

    The problem
    was, and always has been the unfortunate reality that the word “social
    ownership”, used in the preamble that was replaced today by the new
    preamble, has been used in many contexts. I wish that social ownership
    could be understood in the correct context of a democratic economy where
    all stakeholders in economic firms exercise democratic control and
    democratic decision-making in those firms. Unfortunately the reality is
    that the main public image of the terms “social ownership”, as promoted
    by major media, is the image of mass nationalization. No modern social
    democratic party supports mass nationalization, and the international
    affiliate of the NDP and almost all other social democratic parties, the
    Socialist International (SI), does not support mass nationalization in
    its Declaration of Principles, and the following five quotes make clear what the democratic socialist economics of the social democratic movement actually is:

    “experience
    has shown that while nationalisation in some circumstances may be
    necessary, it is not by itself a remedy for social ills”, Declaration of Principles – V. Shaping the Twenty-First Century –Political and Economic Democracy, 59, Socialist International.

    “Neither private nor State ownership by themselves guarantee either economic or social justice.” Declaration of Principles – V. Shaping the Twenty-First Century, 59, Socialist International.

    “The
    democratic socialist movement continues to advocate both socialization
    and public property within the framework of a mixed economy” Declaration of Principles – V. Shaping the Twenty-First Century, 60, Socialist International.

    “markets
    can and must function in a dynamic way of promoting innovation and
    signalling the desires of consumers through the economy as a whole.
    Markets should not be dominated by big business power, and manipulated
    by misinformation.” Declaration of Principles – V. Shaping the Twenty-First Century, 62, Socialist International.

    “A
    democratic society must compensate for the defects of even the most
    responsible market systems. Government must not function simply as a
    repair shop for the damage brought about by market inadequacies or the
    uncontrolled application of new technologies. Rather the State must
    regulate the market in the interests of the people and obtain for all
    workers the benefits of technology, both in work experience and through
    the growth of leisure time and meaningful possibilities for individual
    development. Declaration of Principles – V. Shaping the Twenty-First Century, 62, Socialist International.

    The section of quotes here say it all, this is the socialism that
    the social democratic movement, including the NDP, stands for and I
    have confidence that the members of the NDP still strongly uphold these
    pragmatic goals for a socially just society.

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