Prime Time Crime


(Published in the Chilliwack Times week of Nov. 19, 2007)


NDP's contempt for Democracy


  By John Martin

There’s probably no better example of how the best of intentions can drive a wrongheaded policy than our experience with affirmative action.  Such policies have failed the workplace, tarnished the reputations of those hired from targeted groups, and done little to create a more diverse workforce.

So it’s somewhat odd, but not surprising, that opposition leader Carole James supports a quota system for selecting candidates for the next election.  There’s certainly nothing new about the NDP embracing yesterday’s failed concepts.  But with the Campbell government stumbling over convention center cost over-runs and a troublesome child protection system, one would think the NDP would be cautious of over the top, left-wing lunacy for the time being.

But right on cue, James laid out a candidate selection policy that closes the deal on another Campbell majority.

The NDP plan would ensure that only women could replace any sitting MLA who chooses not to stand for re-election.  So if Jenny Kwan, the long time MLA for Vancouver-Mount Pleasant decides to pack it in, the likes of Jim Green, one of the hardest working anti-poverty advocates in the province and someone who actually brings a credible voice to left-wing politics, would be barred from contesting the nomination.

It doesn’t end there.  The strategy would also designate 30 per cent of vacant constituencies for female candidates.  Certainly the goal of running more women in the next election is commendable.  But to propose doing so by instituting a quota system is the epitome of paternalism.  Such a policy infers women are too frail to muster a feisty candidate selection process.  Apparently women can be soldiers, astronauts, cops, and mixed martial arts competitors but they don’t have what it takes to fight an NDP nomination contest.   Maybe the party should clean up the process if it’s that ugly.

And just to show the NDP truly is the silly party, they want to reserve another 10 per cent of ridings for gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered, aboriginals, visible minorities and the disabled. 

If the party managed to recruit strong candidates who happen to come from these groups they would no doubt score some political capital.

But to simply institute a quota system to run designated, politically correct candidates is a slap in the face to the voters of those ridings and an insult to the groups they claim to be championing.

It seems while everybody else is getting over issues of ethnicity and sexuality, the NDP is obsessively fixated on, what for most people, is yesterday’s news.

Equally important, the policy reveals their true autocratic nature. It empowers the party to over-ride local constituency associations and deny grass roots, local democracy in instances where it’s determined the party members voted the wrong way.

In previous times the NDP was a legitimate social conscience on the political landscape.  On occasion they were a serious “government-in-waiting.”  And despite some missteps and being surrounded by a mob of unethical backstabbers, Mike Harcourt and Glen Clark were two of the most decent men to ever give themselves to public service.

But this latest crew is little more than a troupe of dancing circus bears, occasionally amusing us but hardly worth taking seriously.

Meanwhile, that’s Gordon Campbell you hear chuckling in the background.

John Martin is a Criminologist at the University College of the Fraser Valley and can be contacted at

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