This time last year, Bruce Owen, Larry Kusch and I were spending many a leafy night crammed into community clubs and school gyms covering the bungle that was the provincial NDP’s leadership process, the one that made Premier Greg Selinger premier. It was fun and messy and there was lots of talk about ditching the delegated voting system. A year later, that talk has fizzled.
Enter U of M politics professor Jared Wesley. I just stumbled upon his excellent dissection of the whole nasty business. He did this academic paper in June. I don’t know how I missed it.
Wesley cuts through some of the pundit/politico rhetoric (including mine) and recaps how the delegate system worked (now I get it), how the Ashton-Selinger battle pitted party elites against the grassroots (including hundreds of new grassrooties signed up by both candidates) and the semi-divisive fallout.
But here’s the coolest part: Wesley did an online survey of convention delegates who were invited to participate through a note included in each delegate’s convention package. Wesley surveyed delegates on the fairness of the process, on whether it reflected the real will of the party, on their support for various kinds of voting reform.
Sadly, only 150 of the 2002 delegates replied, despite some email reminders, so the data isn’t scientific. But it seems like delegates lean toward ditching the current system supported by former premier Gary Doer and the unions. Especially the Ashton supporters, who favour one-member-one-vote, which is no surprise.
It also turns out the members are a little cranky about how it all went down, especially how rushed it was and how so many new members were signed up at the last minute to stack delegate selection meetings. That diluted the power of the die-hard Dippers, and it produced some accusations of low-grade racism during the campaign.
Those were the days...
Next: Selinger’s thesis and why it should be a civic election issue.