The 2020 Nova Scotia NDP Convention took place from February 28 to March 1 in downtown Halifax. It attracted around 250 delegates from across the Maritime province. Under leader Gary Burrill – a self-declared Socialist – and the caucus of elected NDP MLAs, strong and loud, despite its small size, the party is well-positioned for a move to the Left. With this context in mind, three delegates from two provincial Electoral District Associations arrived eager to find and recruit similar-minded folk, and to launch the NSNDP Socialist Caucus.
On the second day of Convention, these delegates commandeered a table in the foyer and laid out some materials from both the Federal and Ontario NDP Socialist Caucuses. These included sample SC resolutions from Ontario and other materials to provoke discussion and inspire interested party members. We quickly signed up 26 members (and ran out of space on the signup sheets!) and were interviewed by the Halifax-based podcast Dog Island.
Members of this fledgling left grouping brought forward two Socialist policy proposals that did not make it to the floor, but will be debated at Provincial Council. The first, from Antigonish, was to return Nova Scotia Power to public ownership and to implement democratic control by NS citizens, mandating decision-making power to eventually fall to elected bodies of workers and local stakeholders. The second, from Dartmouth South, advocated the establishment of collaborative financial institutions in the public interest – with a stipulation that these institutions be mandated to invest in projects that serve the public good.
The NSNDP Socialist Caucus intends for its members to raise and advocate for socialist ideas and policies within their own EDAs, arguing on behalf of and marshaling resolutions through these local party organizations. SC members should to become delegates from their EDAs to Provincial Council, helping to ensure that socialist policies are powerfully presented, and voted into the books. This, of course, doesn’t guarantee that they will make it into the Party platform. But it’s a step, and it brings Socialism into the daylight and into the discussion.
The following step is to craft policies for the next NSNDP Convention in two years’ time. There is time enough to vet and polish up the language of the policies so that debates on semantics and other drains on time do not overtake the discussion. Further, the plan is to have many EDAs endorse the same proposals, forcing them up in the rankings. In the face of both hegemonic neoliberal governments, and creeping centrism from within the Party, it is crucial that we bring the ideal of Socialism (with examples) to the larger mass of Nova Scotia NDPers.