Day 1 of NDP federal conventionQuebec City—A gray rain was falling on Quebec City this morning, but inside the city’s convention centre, everything was a bright, sunny, optimistic shade of orange.
The 22nd federal convention of the New Democratic Part of Canada kicked off this morning with an enthusiastic reception for NDP Members of Parliament, who lined the stage of the convention floor. The loudest applause was reserved for NDP Leader Jack Layton, who welcomed delegates with his customary passion and warmth.
CUPE has one of the most visible and vocal contingents at the conventions. The union has more than 50 delegates here, led by National President Paul Moist and National Secretary-Treasurer Claude Généreux.
“It’s absolutely essential for us to be here,” said Moist. “The next couple of days will define NDP policy during a politically critical time. We need to do all we can to make sure that our issues and concerns—child care, health care, privatization, municipal funding—remain at the top of the NDP’s priority list.” CUPE will be paying close attention to the resolution prioritization panels Friday afternoon.
Moist will address delegates on a civil society panel Saturday, Sept. 9 at noon, The national president will speak about health care and the fight against contracting out and public private partnerships in that sector.
Also of interest are the party elections on Sunday, Sept. 9. Three CUPE sisters are running for prominent positions on the NDP executive. Former member Anne McGrath, most recently Jack Layton’s director of operations, is running for party president. Judy Darcy, secretary-business manager of the Hospital Employees’ Union in British Columbia, and Julie Davis, national director of organizing and regional services, are also both up for re-election for their seats.
While many CUPE members are NDP convention veterans, some, like Rebecca Sorrell, are here for the first time.
“It’s amazing to walk into a room filled with so many NDPers,” said Sorrell, a shop steward for CUPE 7811. “Just to know I’m surrounded by like-minded people is a very moving experience.”
The 24-year-old single mom is a hospital staffing coordinator from Cornwall and was recently elected as a youth officer for her riding association. She’s in Quebec City to learn how to better mobilize her local and her community, which she describes as “very conservative.”
“I want more knowledge,” she said. “Hopefully, this convention will give me fresh ideas and mobilization tools to create a more progressive riding.”