One day after the federal NDP voted to look for a new leader, North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney expressed confidence that her party can move forward.
Blaney was at the federal NDP convention April 8-10 in Edmonton where, on the final day, delegates voted 52 per cent to 48 per cent to embark on a leadership election. Tom Mulcair indicated he will stay on as party leader until his successor is chosen, a process that could take up to two years.
Blaney sees the leadership vote as an example of how her party gives members a chance to have their say.
“I think what I appreciate the most is we have a party that’s based on grassroots engagement,” she said April 11. “We gathered last weekend for lively debate and enjoyed discussion on issues that are important to all of us. I am a great admirer of Tom and I think it’s important that we thank him for the tireless work he’s done for our party and our country. We’ve heard from the membership and now we have to move forward.”
Blaney says the atmosphere was “very solemn and respectful” on April 10 when Mulcair addressed the delegates after the vote was announced.
“We stood with Tom and he spoke of moving forward and unity and our job now is to get on with the important work of representing our constituents,” she said. “It was a very respectful audience, which I appreciated. I really admired Tom and his strength of focusing on that, that we need to come together as a party and move forward. And I feel that we will.”
Blaney says she appreciated the work Mulcair did and she really appreciated his passion for people and for working hard.
“I really appreciated during my time as a candidate how many times he came to the riding; he came to some of the remote parts of our riding and I appreciated his dedication,” she said, adding that Mulcair came to the riding often enough that people felt they knew who he was.
When she looks ahead, Blaney is confident the NDP can move forward with energy and hope.
“I think we’re just going to work tirelessly to rebuild, renew and strengthen this party that we love so much,” she said. “The next chapter begins today and I know New Democrats across Canada will move forward united together, that was the feeling I left with and I know we will continue to work hard.”
Blaney feels inspired by attending the convention.
“It was amazing,” she said. “We had some wonderful speakers. I really appreciated hearing Stephen Lewis, Rachel Notley and Cindy Blackstock. It was inspiring to hear from these people who are working hard to make our country a better country.”
Blaney says there were many heated debates throughout the convention and she was glad for the opportunity for differing voices to be heard.
“I always appreciate that we make the time to have these difficult conversations,” she said. “It was quite inspiring to hear some of that conversation.”
One of the much-publicized topics debated at the convention was the Leap Manifesto, “a call for a Canada based on caring for the Earth and one another.” Among other things, the manifesto calls for full implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, a move to getting 100 per cent of the country’s electricity from renewable resources and states “there is no longer an excuse for building new infrastructure projects that lock us into increased extraction decades into the future,” including oil and gas pipelines.
“That was a fantastic debate we had and I really liked where we went with it,” said Blaney.
The party did not endorse the manifesto but agreed to consider it, deciding that NDP riding associations across the country will come together with the ridership and ask New Democrats to look at the manifesto.
“We are at a place where across Canada, New Democrats are going to be having that conversation,” said Blaney. “I think the goal is next convention to have a report back from the multiple riding associations. It was an exciting debate and heated and wonderful and I appreciate taking the time. I think it’s important.”