NDP Brings White Fest to Halifax

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Corvin Russell Corvin Russell's picture
NDP Brings White Fest to Halifax

What's up with the NDP's ALL-WHITE speakers' lineup for the Halifax convention? How could this happen?

 

 

ennir

Perhaps it would be easier to understand if they just changed their name to the NLP, as in the New Liberal Party. 

I think the speaker who is "part of Obama's inner circle" is a pathetic marketing strategy and demonstrates a party leadership that is less in touch with the kind of Canada I want than I have ever seen before.  What the fuck is wrong with them?

Stockholm

Where are the purple people and the green with yellow polka dotted people? Maybe there needs to be a quota system where by the keynote speakers need to be 50/50 male to female and of the speakers from each gender - there must be a white, a black an Asian and a first nation - and each of those people should be from a different province (don't forget that we need regional representation) - oh and i guess we also need a quota of keynote speakers who are under 30 and a quota who are francophone and a quota who are disabled and a quoata who are LGBTTQ - did I mention that there are only seven keynote speakers?

ennir

Did you get that all of them are white?  LOL

Please go on though, your defense is entertaining.

Stockholm

so are about 90% of all Canadians - so what's your point?

RP.

Stockholm wrote:
Where are the purple people etc.

Wow.  Unbelievable.  Almost.

 

 

Stockholm

There will be dozens of people giving presentations and speeches at the convention and i expect that they will be of all colours - but the ONLY criteria for choosing "keynote speakers" should be that they be the best and most inspiring and interesting people to speak before an audience of NDP activists (this won't exactly be getting gavel to gavel coverage on CNN) - how much melanin they have in their skin is of no interest to me.

spatrioter

Right. The only difference betwen white people and people of colour is the melanin in their skin.

Stockholm, do the party a favour and stop.

Debater

Stockholm wrote:

so are about 90% of all Canadians

I don't think 90% of Canadians are white.  We have a larger minority population than that as far as I know.

ennir

Stockholm wrote:

so are about 90% of all Canadians - so what's your point?

It is not a party that represents me nor does it appear to represent diversity at all but hey maybe you are one of those boys in suits strategizing up the shit they are promoting.

Let me make this as clear as I can, I think Obama is powerless to do any real good even if that was his intent and I don't think it is, I am not the least little bit interested in any association with him and it strikes me as pathetic to have any kind of association being made.  I think it is insulting to Canadians who have voted NDP in the past to think they be manipulated by some fucking bogus glamour the media supports.

We are not USians.  LOL  Take those strategies back across the border.

ottawaobserver

Boy you guys.  Please send me a notice about the next large-scale undertaking any of you organize, so I can pull it apart and find everything wrong with it too.

That said, I will be surprised if some attention is not paid to the Black Nova Scotian community, and the Miqma'q and Malaseet nations and the Acadian fact of Nova Scotia.  Sheesh folks there's still a month to go yet...

Star Spangled C...

Well, how many non-white MPs or provincial party leaders do they have? How many presidents of major unions are non-white?

Seems that the speakers list is a pretty good one - a provincial leader, two former party leaders, the CLC president, a key player in the best election campaign of my lifetime.

I don't think they need to add a non-white person to fill a quota. It's always funny watching the Republican convention and seeing the lineup of speakers. It will always be big name people - presidents, vice-presidents, house speakers, prominent senators, etc. and then there will always be some major prime-time speaking slot reserved for someone like the Colorado agriculture commissioner and you wonder what he's doing there and then see him and realize that they're trying to "present a diverse face to America" and he was the highest ranking elected official they could find.

Sean in Ottawa

Stockholm wrote:

so are about 90% of all Canadians - so what's your point?

You are out to supper having clearly been out to lunch.

Visible minorities in Canada represented 13% in 2001. By 2006 they were 16.2% of the population and are expected to cross 20% shortly if they have not already.

Your comment was as stupidly offensive as it was stupidly partisan. If you had been a new poster people would have assumed you were just a troll to make the NDP look bad. As an NDP member I am ashamed of you.

The criticism is perfectly legitimate. We have a long way to go in this country towards bringing down barriers and this oversight is a sad reflection of a lack of awareness.

I work for a national organization and our convention was full of diversity (particularly i the speakers) and those who were of visible minorites were in many cases the best there. Frankly someone should be sent for diversity training. There is a book of short stories called What If? on diversity by Steve Robbins. He is amazing-- saw him in person. I recomend the book.

Stockholm--- please, please, please get this book and read it with an open mind and come back and share your thoughts. It would do you some good-- it is also entertaining so you will enjoy it as well.

Yes a month to go-- hopefully someone will make sure that the convention is more representative by then and that is not the audience-- the NDP is likely more diverse than the general population-- having a diverse audience listen to a bunch of white men is not appropriate--

Hopefully, Layton, who is, I think, quite committed to diversity will take a look at this. I have heard his wife speak on this issue before-- if this is not fixed, it will be conversation at one dinner table at least.

spatrioter

Even more sad than this oversight is the belief by commenters here that no person of colour in the entire country could be an effective keynote speaker.

RP.

To address the OP, two of the people are NDP Premiers.  Two are former leaders.  One is the president of the CLC, which is an integral part of the NDP.  Two are at the head of different initatives.  One is the guest speaker.

I'm trying not to make excuses.  I don't know what goes into picking guest speakers.  You probably start with a long list of very desirable people, and they you find out who's available and wants to do it.  I don't know who they had on their list.  Presumably they're people that were going along withe a theme already in place.  Part of the problem is that it was white people who got into positions of power before the list was drawn up.  I mean, who would you take off that list, and who would you put in their place, presuming they want to do it in the first place?  

Stockholm

Debater wrote:

Stockholm wrote:

so are about 90% of all Canadians

I don't think 90% of Canadians are white.  We have a larger minority population than that as far as I know.

 

You'd be surprised, once you get out of the major cities, Canada is very white. The "visible minority" population is actually a lot lower than you might think from walking around downtown Vancouver.

Obama's people are coming to the convention to discuss TACTICS that they have found to be effective. Quite frankly, if there was someone from the GOP who had something interesting to share about tactics for winning elections - I'd be interested in hearing about it from them as well. I don't have to agree with every single policy plank for the candidate the person worked for - i want to know about nuts and bolts tactics and strategies that could be useful in the next federal election.

I think diversity is extremely important, but there are many levels of diversity that need to be taken into consideration. You need some speakers who can speak French, you need some from each of the major regions of the country, you need some men and women, you need some elder statesmen and women. I'm not sure how many ways you can slice and dice seven people - we are not talking about a cabinet of 20 people who will run a province for the next four years - we are talking about a few people giving short speeches.

I assume that the speakers list is in a state of flux since i noticed that at one point Stephen Lewis was on the list and now he isn't - so perhaps they are trying to get another speaker or two that has some more melanin in their epidermis.

Scott Piatkowski Scott Piatkowski's picture

I think this is fair comment.

While underrepresentation is not just an NDP problem, it is an NDP problem and one that we have to work on.

That said, obviously the two NDP premiers (including the host) are going to be invited to speak, and they happen to be white and male. And, it'd be hard not to include a revered figure like Ed Broadbent. But why not at least feature one or more of the NDP Provincial Leaders who is female (there are three)? Why not feature Gordon Earle, a past and future MP?

As OO says, there is still a month to work on the program.

Sean in Ottawa

Star Spangled Canadian wrote:

Well, how many non-white MPs or provincial party leaders do they have? How many presidents of major unions are non-white?

Seems that the speakers list is a pretty good one - a provincial leader, two former party leaders, the CLC president, a key player in the best election campaign of my lifetime.

I don't think they need to add a non-white person to fill a quota. It's always funny watching the Republican convention and seeing the lineup of speakers. It will always be big name people - presidents, vice-presidents, house speakers, prominent senators, etc. and then there will always be some major prime-time speaking slot reserved for someone like the Colorado agriculture commissioner and you wonder what he's doing there and then see him and realize that they're trying to "present a diverse face to America" and he was the highest ranking elected official they could find.

You are telling me they can't find an Aboriginal leader worth hearing from????????? You are kidding right? This is a priority for the NDP on issues of public health and poverty. This is getting worse by the minute.

Corvin Russell Corvin Russell's picture

Just for the sake of factual accuracy: using the Statistics Canada definitions and the data from the 2006 census, the percentage of people identified as "visible minorities" OR "Aboriginal" (exclusive categories in Stats Can terminology) is just shy of 20%. That number would be higher in big cities and in northern areas with a higher percentage of Indigenous people.

But that is not really the point. No one is arguing for a precise calibration of tokenistic representation according to demographic ratios, except Stockholm's straw man.

 

 

 

 

Stockholm

Phil Fontaine is apparently a Liberal. If you have any other names, why don't you call the NDP and recommend someone who is ready, willing and available. From what I recall from the convention in Quebec City, there were additions to the list of keynote speakers right up to the day before the convention so there is still a month to go.

Sean in Ottawa

If you don't want to not have someone you think you need to hear from then add another slot. The problem is those who think that diversity is not as important as the other list of people. Since you mention the CLC- take a look at their conventions-- they make sure there is diversity at their conventions.

remind remind's picture

I would be interested in suggestions by Mr Russel on who he would like to see speak?

Star Spangled C...

Quote:

You are telling me they can't find an Aboriginal leader worth hearing from????????? You are kidding right? This is a priority for the NDP on issues of public health and poverty. This is getting worse by the minute.

I'm sure they'd be thrilled to get Phil Fontaine, for example. Maybe he was invited and declined. I don't know. David Suzuki could be great but maybe tehy couldn't get him. Who else should be there? And who of the existing speakers should they replace? A sitting Premier? A party icon like Broadbent?

KenS

Stockholm, do the party a favour and stop digging in deeper.

And just a hint,  a big part of finding that prospects are "ready, willing and able" is that you show your interest by calling them. As already noted, there are plenty of prospects.

Sean in Ottawa

Stockholm wrote:

Phil Fontaine is apparently a Liberal. If you have any other names, why don't you call the NDP and recommend someone who is ready, willing and available. From what I recall from the convention in Quebec City, there were additions to the list of keynote speakers right up to the day before the convention so there is still a month to go.

Roberta Jamieson

Pat Dieter

Linda Otway

All three could be great speakers--

All three are experts on women in aboriginal politics-- barriers to women in politics, first nations challenges-- they would be worth the flight ticket-- and I don't care that none of them is AFN leader--

Sean in Ottawa

Percy Paris-- elected for the NDP in NS-- you don't even need to pay to put him on a plane. Here is his phone number 902-860-4004.

He can speak.

 

Do I need to find you more? He can talk about what it takes to be successful as a party and a caucus coming into power.

genstrike

Stockholm wrote:

Where are the purple people and the green with yellow polka dotted people?... did I mention that there are only seven keynote speakers?

Stockholm wrote:

I'm not sure how many ways you can slice and dice seven people

You know, I think Stock has a point here.  When you're picking eight people (there's eight on that website), sometimes you can't have everyone represented no matter how hard you try.  But they tried and they did a good job representing diverse people.  They have a white American, white banker, white hockey player, white union official, white guy named Ed, white premier, other white premier, and white Nova Scotian.  Now that's diversity!

Note the heavy sarcasm, if it isn't apparent.

Star Spangled C...

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

Percy Paris-- elected for the NDP in NS-- you don't even need to pay to put him on a plane. Here is his phone number 902-860-4004.

I'm sure he's great. And would likely be a terific option if you didn't already have the guy who was just elected PREMIER of Nova Scotia.

Sean in Ottawa

George Hickes-- first Inuk speaker of the Manitoba legislature-- still in that role

Lorraine Michael-- first Arab woman leader of a party in Canada-- leader of NDP in NL

Conrad Santos

Leonard Preyra-- relected NDP member NS

It is not hard to do this...

Stockholm

I didn't mean to be dismissive of this topic - but I guess I found the original post with the all-caps headline about an "ALL WHITE SPEAKERS LINEUP" to be a bit over the top and was almost conjuring up an image in my mind of a lineup of people all wearing KKK hoods!

As I mentioned the list of speakers seems to be constantly changing and a few days ago had more people on it than it does now - so I assume that the lineup is still being finalized - so i think its good that this subject has been raised and hopefully the convention organizers are already one step ahead of the game and have been contact with some potential speakers of colour who simply haven't been nailed down yet.

ottawaobserver

Again, they will be in Miqma'q territory ... and I'm sure a Miqma'q elder has already been approached as would be traditional and respectful.  What wouldn't be smart is inviting a Mohawk or someone from somewhere else and NOT inviting someone from the local Miqma'q community.

Really, people just can't wait to pull things out of the air to criticize the party for, when it would have been more constructive (not easier of course, as it would take some effort, and starting a thread on Babble to complain is much less work) to just pick up the phone and call someone in federal office and make an inquiry and perhaps a suggestion or two.

It's the passive-aggressive complaining by non-doers that engenders the irritated responses.

Debater

Stockholm wrote:

Phil Fontaine is apparently a Liberal.

Yes, it is rumoured that he may run for the Liberals in the next election.

Stockholm

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

George Hickes-- first Inuk speaker of the Manitoba legislature-- still in that role

Lorraine Michael-- first Arab woman leader of a party in Canada-- leader of NDP in NL

Conrad Santos

Leonard Preyra-- relected NDP member NS

It is not hard to do this...

One of the "keynote speakers" is actually described as an "Atlantic Canada Showcase including Alexa MacDonough" - it may well be that this segment will include such people as Percy Paris, Lorraine Michael and Leonard Preyra - so let's wait and see, the speakers list is far from complete

Sean in Ottawa

Just one non-white speaker? Too much to ask?

What is more constructive than floating a bunch of names?

What is wrong with this discussion-- hardly damaging for the party-- Can't see how those who defend a lack of diversity are seen as protectors of the party while those calling for diversity are the shit disturbers-- I have not said anything bad about the party all thread -- but I am making a position clear-- frankly it is healthier for the party to have people like me publicly calling for diversity than having people say that is too much to ask for. I am not asking for full representation but at least one non-white????

It would look worse for the party if there was nobody concerned about this.

genstrike

ottawaobserver wrote:

Again, they will be in Miqma'q territory ... and I'm sure a Miqma'q elder has already been approached as would be traditional and respectful.  What wouldn't be smart is inviting a Mohawk or someone from somewhere else and NOT inviting someone from the local Miqma'q community.

Yeah, can't have two indigenous speakers.  That would be like having two white speakers!

Sean in Ottawa

OK-- sounds like Stockholm has come round on this-- and topic has been raised-- let's see what happens. Surely they will get it right.

But if they don't -- there should be hell to pay

 

Stockholm

Better to be raising this now when the convention is still a month away than to be making a stink at the convention itself.

RP.

genstrike wrote:
Yeah, can't have two indigenous speakers.  That would be like having two white speakers!

Not what was said. 

Stockholm

and btw: I find the title of this thread pretty offensive. There are perfectly legitimate points to be made about how the list of speakers at the convention should be more diverse - but referring to the NDP as bringing a "white fest" to Halifax makes it sound like this was some sort of calculated salute to white supremacy out of Pretoria circa 1950!

Debater

Scott Piatkowski wrote:

I think this is fair comment.

While underrepresentation is not just an NDP problem, it is an NDP problem and one that we have to work on.

It is true that underrepresentation of racial minorities is a problem in the NDP caucus.  The NDP has done very well with gender representation because it has had 2 women leaders of the federal NDP in a row and has a caucus that is about half women right now.  

However, in terms of racial diversity, it is almost entirely white except for one or two MP's like Olivia Chow.  The NDP needs to have MP's of Muslim, Indian, African, etc. background like the Liberals and Conservatives do in order to have more representatation from those communities.

ottawaobserver

genstrike wrote:

ottawaobserver wrote:

Again, they will be in Miqma'q territory ... and I'm sure a Miqma'q elder has already been approached as would be traditional and respectful.  What wouldn't be smart is inviting a Mohawk or someone from somewhere else and NOT inviting someone from the local Miqma'q community.

Yeah, can't have two indigenous speakers.  That would be like having two white speakers!

For the love of mike, that's not what I said at all and please don't put words into my mouth.  There were no Miqma'q names on Sean in Ottawa's list, but a lot of Ontario names.  As I said, it would be considered rude if in Miqma'q territory not to thank the elders for welcoming you there, but meanwhile to invite someone else to address you.

I take it you just want to be generally argumentative rather than having any particular knowledge about these things, or look for the most charitable explanation for what someone is saying.

KenS

Side point on Phil Fontaine. He's not a card carrying Liberal. He has been willing to run for them in the past, and may in the next election. But it would be no surprise if he expressed an interest in the NDP.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

I'm amused by the idea that ethnic diversity is something you can cobble together every two years for ceremonial occasions by making a few phone calls to non-whites who have no real connection to the party (like Fontaine, Suzuki, Jamieson). That's the way the Liberals and Tories operate, of course.

The real problem with diversity for the NDP is that it does not have strong alliances with the struggles of minorities, and its leadership layers at the provincial and federal level are overwhelmingly white. Naturally, if you are going to  have keynote speakers who are drawn from the likes of premiers and ex-premiers you are going to be reflecting the lack of diversity that actually exists in the party. 

I can't decide whether it's better to have speakers that reflect the pathetic reality of the party, or to try to put lipstick on the pig and put on a show for the non-whites, US-style.

Maybe Obama's crack election strategists could give the NDP some tips in that regard?

ottawaobserver

Debater wrote:

It is true that underrepresentation of racial minorities is a problem in the NDP caucus.  The NDP has done very well with gender representation because it has had 2 women leaders of the federal NDP in a row and has a caucus that is about half women right now.  

However, in terms of racial diversity, it is almost entirely white except for one or two MP's like Olivia Chow.  The NDP needs to have MP's of Muslim, Indian, African, etc. background like the Liberals and Conservatives do in order to have more representatation from those communities.

Thank you for your propaganda disguised as considered and selfless advice based on 0 knowledge of what you're talking about.

In fact, the NDP has done well with gender representation because 25 years ago when Liberals and Conservatives were still debating whether "quotas" meant "reverse discrimination", the NDP implemented a very sensible policy that mandated a thorough candidate search including women and members of visible minorities and aboriginal people, but still left the final decision in the hands of the membership through nomination meetings.  It also mandated that all party decision-making bodies had to be composed of at least 50% women.  This created a pool of talent that over the years has risen to the top.

The Liberals ran more women candidates last time because they appointed most of them.  On the other hand, I think I count about 15 *elected* Liberal women out of a caucus of 77, while the NDP elected 12/37 or so.

As to the diversity of the NDP's slate, if you look at candidates recruited for next-tier seats I think they did a pretty good job on that front.  We just have to get some old Liberal deadwood out of the way before we can get them elected.

KenS

So Spector, how good a job have organizations you are involved with done with diversity?

And point of information, in the case of the NDP having more diverse keynote speakers would not be a case of "something you can cobble together every two years for ceremonial occasions by making a few phone calls to non-whites who have no real connection to the party."

Rather it would be a case of the keynote speakers being representative of the diversity that does exist in the NDP- which itself needs a lot of improvement, but is not non-existant.

 

Corvin Russell Corvin Russell's picture

I feel the same tension M. Spector does. So, to respond to remind, I'd rather see a completely different party - one with substance and a clear alternative vision to offer, and a sense of strategy to achieve it that goes beyond superficial and, apparently, ineffective electioneering. The party is cliquish and its apparatchiks' sensibilities too "inside baseball". There's no sense they would take a stand on matters of principle and risk alienating elites (who are perennially alienated from the NDP anyway) -- look at the party's lack of a principled, vocal stand on Gaza.

I could come up with a list of excellent speakers who are people of colour and bring a range of experience and credibility. But it would still be a kind of tokenism because the party doesn't actually have strong organic relations to struggles of Indigenous peoples and other people of colour. It's just not where the apparatchiks are at. Where they're at is patronizing inanity like "who else can represent them? Of course they should vote for us - they just don't know it because the media is stopping our message from getting out!"

The whiteness of the convention lineup and imagery just couldn't have happened in a party with a strong anti-racist culture and deep relations of solidarity with different struggles.

 

 

 

 

 

KenS

The point you make in your opening post is more relevant than you, like Spector, wanting a totally different NDP than the one that exists.

RP.

Quote:
"who else can represent them? Of course they should vote for us - they just don't know it because the media is stopping our message from getting out!"

 

No one but the most naive noob believes that.

KenS

And by the way, if the NDP was "less cliquish"... if it was more open, chances are by far the greatest that it would be MORE likley to be 'cautious' arond Gaza and other popular struggles.

Unless of course it is to bring in different cliques. That would do the trick.

Stockholm

I was just thinking back to the last convention in Quebec City and whether there were any visible minority speakers there. I remember Mahalai Joya from Afghanistan - though she is not Canadian....and there was a First Nations Opening ceremony etc...

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Hey, Corvin, I think we hit a nerve.

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