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.
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.