NDP insiders need to go

Failed NDP candidate Matt Toner provides commentary: Let’s reboot the Old Democratic Party into something new for the 21st century.

Toner would offer much as an MLA and I’m surprised that voters selected a Liberal lightweight instead. However, the keys to his rejection might be revealed by words in the Georgia Straight. I suppose no digital media entrepreneur can write anything without a heap of cliches and Matt is a digital media man, through and through.

His prattle in the Straight calls for a “deep and searing” reboot “to strip away stale elements” and he says, “we need to do more than just restate our social democratic principles with fresh buzzwords.” That’s followed by buzzwords and advice to “concentrate on those core concepts that are unique to our philosophy [and] challenge ourselves to pivot from this foundation into the 21st century.”

Sure, that’ll do it.

Toner claims the NDP had good leadership in 2013 and says those who call for change misunderstand the challenges faced. Alternatively, I claim party insiders fail to grasp reality and have grown too comfortable in the perpetual role as opposition. If I may use my own cliche, these clowns snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

Their strategies failed so thoroughly that wholesale change is necessary. The sooner the better. Dix should slide down the bench and practice presentation skills until he can effectively support the party’s effort. Sihota, Zirnhelt and O’Brien must depart because, beyond years of demonstrated incompetence, their presence reinforces claims that today’s NDP is still the old bunch from the nineties.

I’ve heard from numerous NDP members who complained that, in the year leading up to this election, they were solicited a hundred times or more for money but never once to contribute or react to policy and platform ideas. A party that once prided itself on grassroots development of issues disrespected its members and left a corrupt government in place to further enrich supporters.

Categories: NDP BC

21 replies »

  1. You know Norm, I often wonder what motivates people to make the decisions they do. It's not like there hasn't been enough comments for a new leadership, so why is Adrian & the likes of Moe Sihoto hanging on. Are they so comfortable in their current position that it boils down to not wanting to give up the extra benefits & wages.
    If these individuals truly wanted the party to succeed then it's time to listen to the membership and in this case… the pundits.
    Even prior to the election, a lot of people suggested Moe's past would be a detriment to the party and now with such a huge loss, why can't he man up and step down for the sake of the NDP party ?
    I really do think it boils down to a cushy job, great pay…. & no heavy lifting.

    Guy in Victoria


  2. Dix must go – now!

    James must go – now!

    The NDP must change or they will become largely irrelevant in 2017.

    It seems to me that the NDP hierarchy are incompetent, so incompetent that they haven't a clue what politics are all about, as they play little mind games on the voter. The trouble is, the voter is tired of the NDP and their constant chatter about nothing. A yesterdays political party, fighting yesterday's political battles, with well pat their “best buy” date MLA's.

    Sadly for the NDP it is change or fade away into history.


  3. I got an email from the NDP just the other day, the eve of the Kelowna by-election, asking for a donation, signed Jan O'Brien. Jeez, when have I heard this before? It was like creepy, erie deja vu…all over again.

    I've already expressed what I want to hear but I don't yet know if the party has heard me. Next week our riding association gets to hear the campaign review; in a month we'll start down the path to the November Convention. From what I've heard so far from the upper echelon (yes, the same people who flubbed the election that was supposed to have been— could have been—a cake-walk) is that it still hasn't been determined what went wrong and therefore neither is it known what to do about it. But if they were really listening they should be able to hear, loud and clear: “Oh yes it has,” and “Oh yes we do.”


  4. The fairly constant e-mails (I'd say more like 10-20) asking for money were an annoyance — and it seemed to be one-way communication. I advised the asker that I would give some $ — but that I would be giving many hours of my time for door-knocking and getting out the vote. I never got an, “Okay… that's good… manpower is important too.”

    My efforts were appreciated by local organizers in the eastern Fraser Valley. We worked hard!


  5. @ scotty on denman

    re email, I hear that some members have been contacted many times, and that others are seldom contacted.

    Wonder if they are targeting specific members according to some criteria?

    re: “Next week our riding association gets to hear the campaign review; in a month we'll start down the path to the November Convention”

    I will not be participating in any process until Adrian does the appropriate thing and steps down. There is nothing to say until then.

    july morning


  6. When we were much younger, and perhaps a little more idealistic and a lot more naive, we 'assumed' that politics and politicians were a worthy and useful enterprise that ensured our best interests and welfare.

    We probably even voted on occasion, and when we did, we voted most likely in favour of our parents or grandparents preference.

    When we got a little older and perhaps wiser and hopefully better informed, when we did vote, we voted either for or against those who best represented or not our own best interests and ideals.

    We voted because we really thought our input was informed and important and we really were an important part of the process.

    For better or worse, age intervened and our zeal for the process has wizened because we have become painfully aware that just as god does not exist outside of the minds of men, and politicians are of equal zero sum benefit to our sense and sensibilities, and our 'vote' means absolutely nothing.

    Tilting at windmills only breaks our lances and exhausts our horses, full of sound and fury, accomplishing nothing other than ridicule and isolation.

    Doing it their way over and over again, truly is insanity, and will never relieve us of our frustrations, only make them worse.

    Quiet desperation will lead us only to our graves.

    Pogo was right, we are the enemy, and as such we need to change our method, our mindset and our resolve to make and maintain the change we desperately need or 'they' will destroy whatever little humanity we still have.

    I believe mass demonstrations of civil disobedience via marching in the streets, disrupting commerce, general strikes, boycotting certain gas companies like BP and Esso etc.and whatever else
    it takes to end the corporate stranglehold on 'our' governments, news media, transportation, etc. and 'their' politicians.


  7. @ron wilton

    Respectfully, mass demonstrations by definition, will only happen in large cities, by a relatively small number of city dwellers who tend to be on the fringe. Granted there are large turnouts for peace marches, but that is a motherhood issue.

    I don't know one person in my mid-sized town that would put their employment, and security on the line to defy a politician who is likely to be someone they are acquainted with.

    The secret ballot is our best tool in the box, next to a party worth our trust.


  8. Sorry Anonymous, but I agree with Ron Wilton.
    The only times that I have seen democracy, i.e., the voice and will of the people, truly heard and enforced is through mass demonstration.
    The first time that I really noticed its effect was way back in, I believe, the 1960's when Californians stood up in the hundreds of thousands all over the state to oppose Proposition “whatever-the-heck-it-was”. I think it was a Gov Jerry Brown piece of draconian legislation. In any event, the people halted this legislation from going through at a time, even way back then, that it appeared nobody could stop government from doing what it wanted. Things have only digressed exponentially since then.
    Here in BC the HST backlash is another example of people coming together IN NUMBERS to say, NO.
    Mas demonstration, in my view, is the ONLYT tool we have left. Nothing else is heard or even recognized.


  9. @12:36
    re ron wilton's comments: ” I believe mass demonstrations of civil disobedience via marching in the streets, disrupting commerce, general strikes, boycotting certain gas companies like BP and Esso etc.and whatever else”

    First of all 12:36, I don't see boots on the ground being applied by frail seniors, the ill, the poor, the harried mom etc. The HST worked because of a great organization that didn't require a public display.

    Sorry to say, but the sixties are over…

    A revived democratic progressive alternative, on the moderate right or left is a practical goal.

    july morning


  10. Toner's “critique” was nothing more than cliched bumpf. This one reason why people are tired of us. We didn't talk to people about the issues that matter to them. In fact we didn't even want to hear from them unless it was to ask for more money. And that's the problem. The NDP provincial office is full of folks who think they know all the answers and don't want to hear from the great unwashed. We need to start by supporting local activists and constituency associations in a meaninful way,as they the first and usually the only point of contact between theparty and the public. As an aside Norm, I believe Jan O'brien is stepping down in December.


  11. Your comment about demands for donations rings true in our house. My wife and I have both donated small amounts to the federal and provincial NDP. During the winter and spring of 2013, both of us got a great many emails and phone calls asking for money. It became tiresome and continued even after we asked to unsubscribe.

    Politics Respun pointed to a Think Forward BC NDP Workplan Document “We must empower members and non-members…Treating members like donors who merely allow “professionals” to do the work of democracy is bad for democracy.”


  12. re volunteering, I volunteered, and also organized other volunteers (as a volunteer),
    in a small way in the eighties. It takes a big time commitment to volunteer to organize other volunteers.

    There were the usual tensions with human interactions, from above, and below– without the money to make it worthwhile for many.

    I don't know what the answer is, but nothing can replace the positive energy created
    when dedicated volunteers are able to work in harmony towards a common purpose.
    july morning


  13. Your comment “why is Adrian & the likes of Moe Sihoto hanging on. Are they so comfortable in their current position that it boils down to not wanting to give up the extra benefits & wages……”

    Answered your question….


  14. The NDP's problem is that it did not get its message to the voters. Its policy was not reported by the MSM because they do not report things unless they are told about them. The NDP must bring all its policies forward, esp. Sustainable BC. MSM may report them and it may not. We must remember that the BC NDP is not in bed with the MSM the way the BC Liberals are so their policies may not be reported. This happened in the last several elections in BC, no reporting of the NDP policies.


  15. There's some truth in what you say… that the MSM is part of the NDP's problem in connecting with the electorate.

    It's a changing world, though, and I'd say the under-30 crowd especially doesn't pay much attention to the MSM — and the talk here and at other sites is that even the older crowd are giving up on the MSM.

    With all the unlisted phone numbers now, it's tough to connect that way, as well — and people living in apartments are hard to contact, door-to-door.

    How to connect is now a much bigger challenge, as the connection points are so diverse and ever-changing.

    Certainly, image is an important starting point. If the leader doesn't appeal, few will listen. Many didn't like CC's image — but the majority of voters did… or at least put up with it. I wouldn't say that Dave Barrett was a real 'looker' but he had the image of a fighter, the great oratory skill and the ability to inspire a crowd.

    Brief and punchy sound and visual bites, as in “Jobs” and “Grow the Economy” certainly worked for Christy. Study the BC Libs' playbook and go from there.


  16. When Obama was elected the first time, he had a communications system in place which did not rely so much on MSM. It worked. It required volunteers.

    During the 70, 80, 90s I volunteered during election time. It actually was fun. A lot of people did. When I went to vote in the last provincial election what was noted was the lack of scruitneers. There used to be a lot of them, from each party. it may not be much but people feel connected to their party when they work for it.

    The leiberals have the MSM. If the NDP doesn't have that, then they need to figure out how to communicate in another manner. if they don't, then can they ever face the challenges of this century.

    I am so old I recall Tommy Douglas standing on a box speaking at a country fair on Maine island back in the 70s. Never saw him in person before, only on t.v. It was suprising to see how short he was, but he could speak!

    The old expression of, to win an election you have to shake the hand of every voter in your community, still stands. it is how the hand is shaken these days that needs to be re defined. The NDP hasn't figured it out.


  17. Tommy Douglas was tireless. In the sixties, I was a UBC student and active with the campus Liberals. We and members from other political clubs used to gather at the student building (Brock Hall) in the Parliamentary Council room. Douglas was on campus one day to give a speech so he arrived early at the university, made his way to Brock Hall and walked in unannounced and unaccompanied. He shook hands all around and stayed for a while to chat to everyone gathered about, whether they were NDP members or otherwise. His visit said much about his connection to the grass roots.

    Imagine Christy Clark or Adrian Dix doing the same thing today.


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