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[OPIRG-EVENTS] Time for new politics: national conference
New Politics: The only way left
When: October 18-20, 2002
Where: Ottawa, Parliament Hill, West Block, Room 200
More information: www.newpolitics.ca -- there is a registration form
and billeting request form here
Please forward this message!
If you just want to read about the conference, you can go to the
website above. For those who want it, this email gives a little bit of
background about the NPI and its ideas.
If Lula wins the presidency in Brazil, it will be one of the biggest
developments on the left in decades. It may stop the FTAA. What's
behind the strength of the Worker's Party in Brazil? Looking at
Canada, why do so many feel the NDP has lost relevance and the ability
to inspire ordinary Canadians?
Part of the answer to this question is this: the Brazilian Worker's
Party is a new kind of leftist party that understands how to govern
using "power with" rather than "power over". It is a party rooted in
the social movements and popular organizing. Most members of the party
are active in some other form of organizing, and most social movements
support the party. They also challenge the party, which is part of a
healthy leftist politics. When in power, the Worker's Party has
expanded democracy in imaginative ways, like the well-known
participatory budgeting process of Porto Alegre, now used in cities
and states across Brazil.
In Canada, meanwhile, a lot of the social movement left is rigidly
non-partisan, while the NDP does not cultivate or support the social
movements; when in power it forgets its popular base. Of course,
Canada is not Brazil, and we cannot draw all our lessons from what is
happening there. But it would be wrong to ignore what activists in the
South can teach us. And as globalization ties our fates together ever
more, we will come to depend on each other.
The Worker's Party was one of the inspirations for the New Politics
Initiative and its vision for a new party of the Canadian left that is
activist, rooted in popular movements, and understands the importance
of people's participation at every level of political decision-making
Now the NPI has come to a very important moment: its first national
conference, which will be held in Ottawa from October 18-20.
You can read about it at www.newpolitics.ca -- there is also a
registration form there that you can fax, mail, or email.
It's very exciting that Hilary Wainwright will be speaking at the
conference on Friday night. She is one of the major thinkers of the
New Left, a British feminist and socialist who has thought a lot about
participatory democracy, and helped implement one of the biggest
experiments in participatory democracy through the Greater London
Council's Popular Planning process in the early 1980's. (It was
scrapped by Thatcher, along with the GLC.) She is also the editor of
Red Pepper magazine, which you can visit at www.redpepper.org.uk .
The roundtable on Saturday morning is going to tackle head on one of
the major questions facing the Canadian left: the absence of a strong
relationship between social movements and left political parties, a
relationship that exists elsewhere in the world (in France and Brazil,
for example). Speaking will be movement activists who represent very
different points of view on this issue. This debate will help frame
the discussion for the rest of the weekend.
The rest of the conference will be a participatory decision-making
process that we have worked hard on developing. We're very excited by
it and hope to hear from as many people as possible about the future
political direction of the NPI, its relation to the NDP, and how it
should be structured. There are many proposals to discuss, including our
consulta (democratic consultation of movements), a new model for
organizing municipal election campaigns, and how to initiate social
forums in your region.
The Friday day, Friday night and Saturday morning of the conference
will be open to the public. Decision-making events will only be open
to endorsers and supporters of the NPI. If you believe in most all of:
*anti-oppression politics (feminism, anti-racism, anti-colonialism,
*and, whether you think it should include the NDP or not, if you
believe that we need a new kind of political party on the left that is
activist and has a strong relation to the social movements, and a
strong emphasis on democracy inside and outside the party
then you are welcome to participate in decisions at this conference: simply
endorse on your arrival.
Conference participants should enter Parliament through the security
desk of the West Block building on Parliament Hill; the entrance is at
the south end of the West Block (which is the building to the left of
the Peace Tower, when you are in front of Parliament). If you have
pre-registered (by fax, mail, or e-mail), your name will be listed at
the security desk. If you have not pre-registered, then an NPI
volunteer will have to fetch you from security on your arrival.
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