CFN – In the span of just 4 months, roughly 45,000 people became card-carrying members of the New Democratic Party of Canada, bringing the total number of members to 128,351 people. Here in our home province of Ontario, membership went from 22,225 to 36,760 meaning that 14,535 Ontarians joined the NDP family. In Québec, where “la vague orange” led to 59 NDP MPs being elected in May of 2011 under the leadership of the late Jack Layton, the party went from roughly 1,700 members to about 12,226; an increase of approximately 700 percent. British Columbia still remains the province with the largest number of card-carrying New Democrats; 38,735.
Essentially this means that there will be a record number of New Democrats electing a new leader come next month, and that while BC New Democrats will have the largest say in who succeeds Jack Layton, Ontario and Québec New Democrats will also play a crucial role at the Leadership Convention.
What I also think these numbers released by the party shows is that the NDP needs to do more to gain support in the Prairies and the Maritimes where membership is much lower compared to Ontario, BC and Québec. It is however worth mentioning that under the current electoral system in Canada it may not necessarily matter that membership is weaker in those two regions because often times in a first-past-the-post system as long as a party can establish strong regional support in a few regions, they can win elections.
The Liberals under Trudeau did it for many years with Ontario and Québec and most recently Harper did it with the West and Ontario. If the Liberals and Conservatives can do it, so can the NDP, and while the party itself may be opposed to this electoral system, the truth is if the party plans on winning the election in 2015 it may have to use the electoral system to its advantage before it can reform the system and establish mixed-member proportional representation.
The membership numbers also indicate that while the Québécois hold a majority of seats in caucus, they only make up about 9 percent of members and will therefore be under-represented at the convention. As well, I find it interesting to note that while having a leader who is proficient in both official languages is a must in order for the party to hold Québec and grow in the rest of Canada, 2 english-majority provinces (Ontario and British Columbia) represent close to 60 percent of all members.
This means that a candidate who’s French languages skills are weaker could very much see themselves elected leader, especially if the vote goes to a second or third ballot because it is then that former supporters of some of the less popular candidates could throw their support behind an underdog.
Born and raised in Cornwall Ontario, Stéphane is a social activist and political science student at the University of Ottawa who is avidly passionate about politics, policy-making, as well as getting youth involved in the democratic process.
Stéphane also loves to observe and explore his surroundings, take part in rational discussion, learn new things, write, and meet new people.
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