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Shrink-ocracy

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Yellow Snow made some interesting observations about the fatness of NDP party rolls. Recently, a longtime NDPer was telling me about memberships in the Schreyer/Pawley years – 25,000, and the unwritten rule was that no general election would be called unless the membership list topped that. Same in Saskatchewan’s NDP. No vote unless there were 35,000 members.

Compare that to now, where NDP membership has for years hovered around 5,000 or 6,000 and everyone’s all wide-eyed with glee that suddenly the rolls have more than doubled. As one Tuxedo NDPer joked the other night, they’re having riding association meetings is real halls rather than just her and her mom in her living room.

Party folks say there was a deliberate shrinking of the membership rolls under leader Gary Doer, and the more critical folks say that was meant to prevent the yahoo lefties from hijacking the annual convention or nominating a troublesome candidate. That preserved Doer’s more palatable, centrist, highly-disciplined approach.

But now we’re in a situation where, even after a two-week membership blitz, only one percent of the province will decide who becomes premier, and even then it’s done indirectly. This at a time when the party is all about rejuvenation and new energy after a decade in office and all the candidates are talking about building an inclusive Manitoba.

It will be worse in a couple of weeks, when only 2,000 delegates will get a direct say in who runs the province for the next two years. That’s 0.16 per cent of Manitobans.

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