Right in the centre - Disappointment abounds


Ken Waddell

Neepawa Banner & Press

When the Oct. 3 Manitoba election dust settled there were some happy people but there were a lot of disappointed ones as well. Likely more disappointed people than happy ones.

The good news is there is a way to turn that disappointment around and it covers every voter and every party. The bad news, it requires more work than most people are willing to perform.

All Manitoba parties elect leaders, nominees, boards and delegates.

The NDP holds leadership conventions and delegates are elected. well, at least two-thirds are elected. About one third of the delegates are appointed to spots designated for union reps. I have attended an NDP convention as a reporter and it is quite the process to observe. Independent candidates can vote however they wish but the union delegates tend to be clumped into voting blocks as per the wishes of the union leadership. While the New Democratic Party obviously claims to be “democratic”, the assigned union delegate system erodes that premise considerably.

Aside from that one difference, most political parties have local electoral district boards. They all maintain a membership list and when the time comes for electing delegates to annual meetings, or policy meetings  or leadership conventions, the local board tries to get a slate of delegates to attend to represent the views of the local electoral district or constituency. The titles local electoral district, constituency or riding are pretty much interchangeable. In the Banner coverage area the local electoral districts are Agassiz, Riding Mountain and Spruce Woods.

When people are disappointed with the results of an election or the election process, they should seriously consider joining a political party that most closely espouses their views. If a person is willing to be a member, they will likely get an opportunity, if they wish to become a board member and a delegate to a provincial convention. There’s lots of opportunity, as many board and delegate positions are left unfilled. It has long been that way.

It is at the board level that policies can be brought forward and then moved on to the provincial meetings. That’s how it’s done and those who are skilled and willing get to bring their policies to the forefront.

The bottom line is if you aren’t happy with the Oct. 3 results, you can change things for next time.

The mistake that many people make is to join a party that will never form government. New parties have a hard go. There has not been many new parties form government. In the 1940s, in Manitoba the conservatives and the few progressives that were left standing became the Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba. The New Democratic Party was formed nationally in 1961 by the amalgamation of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) and the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC). The NDP name came to prominence in some provinces after that.

In Manitoba, there are many people labouring away in the Keystone, the Green and the Liberal parties and largely to no avail. The common theme is that a lot of caring, intelligent people have mostly wasted their time at politics when they could have applied their talents within a party that had a chance to form government.

The same premise holds for Manitoba’s two main parties. Neither party has properly developed their structure to best employ the talents of Manitobans.

When membership lists dwindle and when board positions are left unfilled and when provincial conventions aren’t filled up, Manitobans sell themselves short.

So if you were disappointed with the results of Tuesday’s vote, the above steps need to be taken to make Manitoba’s political scene more vibrant and effective.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this column are the writer’s personal views and are not to be taken as being the view of the Banner & Press staff.