NDP Convention produces some strong election platform positions

opinionred 100x100By Andrew Drummond

April 14th, 2021



This past weekend, over 2000 NDP delegates from across the country met at a virtual convention to discuss what direction the party should take moving forward and what policies are important for the NDP to push in the next federal election. The convention was not without its hiccups, and technical difficulties dominated the event in its first 24 hours. Delegates with a disability in particular were frustrated as captioning for the proceedings was not immediately available.


Jagmeet Singh – a resounding 87% endorsement

The most publicly notable part of any political convention in Canada is the vote to endorse the Party Leader. NDPers gave Jagmeet Singh a resounding 87% endorsement which was higher than expectations. Jagmeet also gave a keynote address on the Sunday of the convention where he compellingly argued that without the NDP’s influence the country’s vulnerable would have been for worse off than they were. He quoted a line from a popular meme online: “I’ve heard it said that in this pandemic, we’re all in the same boat. I disagree. We’re not actually in the same boat. We’re certainly in the same storm, but some of us are in leaky lifeboats.” Singh also called out that the Liberal proposal for the CERB program had been $1,000 per month with a 3-month maximum. Only through the pressure tactics of the NDP caucus was the amount and duration increased.

But the core of any convention is the passing of policy the NDP grassroots wants the party to fight the next election on. More than 800 policy resolutions were submitted by riding associations across the country, and delegates prioritized those and then debated over the three days of the convention. The most notable new policies passed are below:


He’s just an old fashioned millionaire.

Make the Wealthy Pay Their Share (80% marginal tax on incomes over $1,000,000)
Delegates in favour of this resolution argued passionately that Canadians earning this amount of income should be more responsible for ensuring a more equitable distribution of wealth across Canada. While exact figures aren’t available, the 99th percentile income in Canada is less than $300,000 per year. The number of Canadians making over $1,000,000 is incredibly small and yet a tax on those individuals would secure considerable funding for programs to help all Canadians.

Re-Establish a federal minimum wage at $20/hour
Delegates on this resolution were focused on the relationship between a minimum wage and a living wage. And after some discussion, delegates were aligned to the idea of $20/hour being necessary because of the incredibly high cost of living in many areas.

Halton was given as an example where the living wage here was $20.38/hour the last time it was calculated in 2019. The wage would only impact federally regulated companies but would hopefully have a significant impact on local economies as well.

Add Long Term Care standards to the Canada Health Act
The experience of Ontario has been noticed by people across the country. Delegates have been outraged at the poor conditions LTC residents have been forced to live in while the private companies managing the sites have been giving out huge dividends to their shareholders. With this policy, the NDP takes a stand that across the country LTC homes will no longer be allowed to be run as for-profit enterprises. It would also enshrine in the Canada Health Act a commitment that any federally funded LTC facility be required to provide a minimum of 4 hours of daily care.

Permanent Paid Sick Days for federally regulated companies
The research in the lead up to this policy shows that 58% of Canadians do not have any paid sick leave. Beyond that, the much touted CRSB program is not suited to day-to-day needs. When a worker starts getting sick, they need that first day off to prevent others from getting infected. The NDP passed a policy demanding 7 permanent sick days per year for all federally regulated companies. It is a very big step towards normalizing paid sick days as required in all businesses.

Canada’s Place in the World

refugee camp

Refugee camp support has always been a large part of Canadian foreign aid.

Historically, the NDP convention has shied away from taking stands on foreign policy. Resolutions calling for international action rarely get prioritized and debated. However, at this convention, the NDP delegates prioritized 2 powerful resolutions calling for action from Canada. First was to unequivocally support farmers in India against the repressive corporate takeover being funded by the Modi government. The second was calling for a boycott of all products made in the Israeli occupied territories as well as an embargo on arms sales to Israel until a fair peace is established with the Palestinian people. This was a landmark policy choice that puts the NDP clearly on the side of those being oppressed and demands Canada take action on the world stage.

Jagmeet blue strong pic

Jagmeet Singh, leader of the New Democratic Party

NDP convention 2021 was not perfect. The technical glitches marred what could have been a bigger unifying experience for delegates (Amends were made by refunding delegate fees to all members with a disability). But policies were passed that will drive the NDP platform for the imminent federal election expected later this spring. They are bold, progressive policies that will brand the NDP clearly as the most progressive platform between the major parties. They also give a clear strategy to escaping the economic downturn caused by the pandemic.

The 2021 NDP Convention made clear that the NDP members have a vision for what Canada should be and how it should take care of its people so no one is left behind. Protecting LTC homes, and fighting for a federal minimum wage will make real, material difference in the lives of Canadians. The biggest message from convention 2021 was that the NDP members share a common vision with Jagmeet Singh and are passionate about fighting for that vision in the next election.

Andrew Drummond was the NDP candidate for Burlington in the last provincial election.

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