A critical element in the renewal process is the debate over the role and relationship with the labour movement. As a founding partner in the creation of the NDP, labour has always played a central role in building and supporting the party, a role that has been formalized through structures of affiliation, funding and representation on decision-making bodies.
Both the NDP and the labour movement recognize that there are not only definite strengths but also serious weaknesses in the present relationship. The status quo is not working. The significant political, financial and organizational support of the CLC and some unions provided to the NDP does not translate into high-levels of electoral support from union members.
Within the labour movement, an exciting and far-reaching debate is beginning about how to reach out and involve workers in political action in a broad sense – not only at election time but also by being active on social, economic and political issues year round. One important aspect of this debate will be the relationship between the labour movement and a political party: what it should look like and how it can be far more effective.
- Over the next 12 months, the NDP should engage Party members, other progressive groups and the labour movement in a wide-ranging discussion concerning the Party’s relationship with the labour movement. This discussion should tackle issues such as affiliation, funding, voting structure, campaigns, and very importantly, how to re-build working class support for a political party on the left.