What does the NDP stand for? - Macleans.ca

What does the NDP stand for?

The New Democrats consider their preamble


Two years ago, at the NDP’s biennial convention, New Democrats considered removing the word “socialism” from the preamble of the party’s constitution. However much a party’s constitution matters in the grand scheme, this was a matter of some disagreement and a decision was put off for two years.

Now, with New Democrats set to convene in Montreal in nine days, the party has come forward with a new proposal for the preamble. Here is the email that party president Rebecca Blaikie sent to members this afternoon.

NDP Convention Delegates,

At the 2011 convention there was a rather extensive debate on a new preamble to our constitution.

At the end of the day, convention tasked the federal council with taking this project forward.

I wanted to update you on what we’ve done since then.

The Constitution Committee tasked a blue ribbon panel consisting of former leader Alexa McDonough, former Manitoba MP Bill Blaikie, past Party President Brian Topp, NDP MP Elaine Michaud and CUPE’s Pam Beattie with consulting and coming up with a new preamble that better represented who we are and what we stand for.

Together we have consulted widely with party activists from coast to coast to coast and thanks to this committee’s very hard work we have a motion from the Constitution Committee for consideration at convention.


Due to the importance of a motion of this significance, I wanted to get it out to you all before convention so people had time to consider the motion.

This new preamble better reflects the traditions upon which our party was founded, including our founding partner in the labour movement. It better reflects the many issues that New Democrats hold dear.

I am proud of the work that the panel and the Constitution Committee have done on this document. If someone asked me what the NDP stands for – I would proudly point them towards this document.

I look forward to seeing you all at convention.


Rebecca Blaikie
New Democratic Party

The current preamble reads as follows.

The New Democratic Party believes that the social, economic and political progress of Canada can be assured only by the application of democratic socialist principles to government and the administration of public affairs

The principles of democratic socialism can be defined briefly as:

That the production and distribution of goods and services shall be directed to meeting the social and individual needs of people within a sustainable environment and economy and not to the making of profit;

To modify and control the operations of the monopolistic productive and distributive organizations through economic and social planning. Towards these ends and where necessary the extension of the principle of social ownership;

The New Democratic Party holds firm to the belief that the dignity and freedom of the individual is a basic right that must be maintained and extended; and

The New Democratic Party is proud to be associated with the democratic socialist parties of the world and to share the struggle for peace, international co-operation and the abolition of poverty.

The preamble that was proposed in 2011 was as follows.

The New Democratic Party believes that social justice, equality, and environmental sustainability are vital to achieving a strong, united and prosperous Canada for all.

To that end, the New Democratic Party is dedicated to the application of social democratic principles to government.

These principles include an unwavering commitment to economic and social equality, individual freedom and responsibility, and democratic rights of citizens to shape the future of their communities.

New Democrats hold firm to the belief that individual freedom and dignity are basic rights that find the fullest expression in healthy and prosperous communities, where individuals can realize their full potential and contribute to a stronger Canada.

Established in partnership with the Labour movement in 1961, the New Democratic Party is the voice of working people in the Parliament of Canada, advocating and implementing laws that advance their collective and individual interests.

New Democrats are proud to stand in solidarity with its allies around the world working for international peace and justice, ending discrimination and exploitation, eliminating poverty and ensuring that wealth and power are in the hands of the many and not the few.

And now here is the new proposed preamble.

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 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 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.


What does the NDP stand for?

  1. The original preamble should remain because if it changed then it means that we are departing from New Democrats have fought for all these years. It means we are fighting for something else. As well, the proposed preamble is wishy-washy and does not concretely state how we want to change society, only that “we want to make it better” and “help people”. Sounds like something the Liberal Party would have written.

    • “the proposed preamble is wishy-washy” “Sounds like something the Liberal Party would have written.”

      I think that’s precisely the point. In both cases, it’s quite deliberate. The hungry wolves at the top of the party sniff power as being ever so close, if only . . .

  2. “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 …”

    I know it’s not fair, but on reading the above I immediately thought of the Judean People’s Front and the People’s Front of Judea.

    • heck, the Communist Party of Canada and the Marxist Leninist Party of Canada.

  3. Perfect timing – I like the part about leveraging the previous socialist entry to that progressive democratic – gotta love words – actually this is a very smart thing to do by Tommy. The beard is most definitley thinking ahead – now is the time for such a change the more he can pivot to and remain near the center the more he can keep his main opponent away from it – which incidentallly aint Harper folks. As it stands now especially with all the hype polls happening Justin the Shiny Pony Kid is due for a match with Tommy the Beard and the winner can then take on Harper. Which is why despite all the pundits and web forum rants Hareper is a happy camper every day that goes by now and willl continue to be while he finishes off all the unpoular stuff he has to do – then cabinet shuffle – throne speech and sit back and watch the contenders duke it out – I even doubt there will be attack ads by him – lotsa talk but no ads why bother he can save the money and watch the NDP ones coming out that will swipe at the shiny pony no doubt about it!

  4. Well first thing they need is an editor! Jeez that new one is long-winded.

    • :)

    • Agreed. There are many statements in that document that could have been edited for clarity.

  5. What does the NDP stand for?

    Road To Wigan Pier –

    ‘I don’t object to Socialism, but I do object to Socialists.’ Logically it is a poor argument, but it carries weight with many people. As with the Christian religion, the worst advertisement for Socialism is its adherents.

    The first thing that must strike any outside observer is that Socialism, in its developed form is a theory confined entirely to the middle classes. The typical Socialist is not, as tremulous old ladies imagine, a ferocious-looking working man with greasy overalls and a raucous voice. He is either a youthful snob-Bolshevik who in five years’ time will quite probably have made a wealthy marriage and been converted to Roman Catholicism; or, still more typically, a prim little man with a white-collar job, usually a secret teetotaller and often with vegetarian leanings, with a history of Nonconformity behind him, and, above all, with a social position which he has no intention of forfeiting. This last type is surprisingly common in Socialist parties of every shade;

    In addition to this there is the horrible–the really disquieting–prevalence of cranks
    wherever Socialists are gathered together. One sometimes gets the impression that the mere words ‘Socialism’ and ‘Communism’ draw towards them with magnetic force every fruit-juice drinker, nudist, sandal-wearer, sex-maniac, Quaker, ‘Nature Cure’ quack, pacifist, and feminist in England.

    • Oh my. Nonconformists, Roman Catholics, feminists, sex-maniacs and those guys on the oat bag. That really is horrible.

      • Orwell is one of my favourites and he is of course right here. He is honest. Really, Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky, Woodsworth (preacher and author), Coldwell (preacher), Douglas (preacher), Broadbent (academic) were all middle-class or over. Only Audrey McLaughlin was legitimately working class. So Orwell has a point about the social origins of “socialists”.

        As Orwell says, the worst advertisement for socialism is its adherents. And so, we must ask, what about the working class? Orwell explores this issue in 1984. If you recall, the prevailing idea that the main character has is that socialism will happen from the proletarians. He reads a forbidden book by Emmanuel Goldstein that says that the proleterians are the only ones that can create socialism. But then he goes to the working class districts, isolated from the party, and what does he find? A bunch of beer-swiggling, crass, loud, unintelligent schmoes.

        Therefore in Orwell’s perception of the world, socialism from the middle-class type of people, which is predominate, has insincere or hypocritcal adherents. But socialism from the working class is less possible due to their petty nature. There is no solution to the problem: and that is why the main character of 1984 succumbs to the party, recognizing there is no solution.

  6. Ok, I’ve read the preamble platitudes.

    Now tell me, what does the NDP (old or new) stand for?

    • They really really want to get elected, and they really really want almost nobody to know or notice that they’re socialists. It’ll be interesting to see if they resign their membership in Socialist International, which they would do if they were serious about not being socialists. I predict that they will not, and when this point is (very rarely) raised, NDP hacks will insist that their long-standing membership in Socialist International is no evidence whatsover that they are socialists. After all, if someone had a long-standing membership in, say, Nazi International, that should never be interpreted as meaning that that person is a Nazi, right?

      • Yes, those socialists are evil – they will nationalize the banks and the means of production, redistribute wealth among the proletariat, and create a gulag in the far north into which capitalist running dog lackies like yourself will disappear.

        [Heh, heh…just trying out a little lame, immature Beanian sarcasm for size].

        • I’m not sure what’s more pathetic — socialists who refuse to be up front about the fact that they’re socialists, or separatists who refuse to be up front about the fact that they’re separatists.

          • Don’t you bother your little mind fretting about them. They’re evil, remember? As long as you just oversimplify their positions and apply your facile little stereotypes to them, you’ll never figure them out anyway.

          • Way to respond to my point. Not. Perhaps you’re actually responding to some post that some other person made? Maybe your computer is malfunctioning or something — better get that checked out.

          • Yeah, my bad. Your “point” was so obscure I couldn’t figure it out.

  7. I’m a Big L liberal, that’s why I vote NDP (Y)

  8. Every member of the federal and provincial NDP has committed to the principle of democratic socialism as a requirement to become a member. Now the party is saying it’s not that important, and you will commit to whatever you are told to commit to. The 2011 version was a cut-and-paste job from the Liberal constitution, but this one is so filled with vague and evasive language it’s hard to tell what they believe in except they believe they did some good things in the past back when they had values. But now? They believe in the common good, democratically elected governments, rules based economy, all the things that apparently distinguish them from other parties. Meaningless mush.

    • Bingo.

  9. Paragraphs 3, 5 and 6 of the new preamble are good. Lose the rest.

  10. Freedom for Quebec

  11. Not necessarily, welfare society with all entitlements of present Europe is bad enough.