Monday, September 18, 2006

Convention - The Saskatchewan Method: More Democratic Way to Approach Resolutions?

Every Convention of a political party is focused, on its core, on resolutions, and the NDP Convention was no exception. But I think that the NDP has a rather novel way of debating its resolutions (correct me if I'm wrong) called the Saskatchewan Method. Before I go further, I will outline the process for those who did not go to Convention or for my non-NDP readers (come to think of it, do they exist?):
  1. The resolutions are sent to the Federal NDP office
  2. A committee organizes the resolutions into general categories (ie: Foreign Affairs, Economy, Internal Organization, etc.)
  3. The resolutions in each category are then ordered by priority
  4. For the first full day of Convention, the delegates are divided into separate panels based on the general categories.
  5. At the panel, the delegates can choose, by majority vote, to reorder the priority of the resolutions. For example a resolution ranked #52 could be moved up to #16 and a resolution ranked #7 could be moved down to #67.
  6. At the panel, the delegates then debate the merits of the resolutions, going in order of importance. The resolutions that pass are then presented to the entire convention.
  7. The Convention as a whole then votes on all of the resolutions recommended by the separate panels as per usual.
  8. Note: Constitutional Amendments do not go through the Saskatchewan Method.
I happen to think that the Saskatchewan Method is more democratic than the usual method. I mean, instead of some hidden committee in the upper levels of the party deciding which resolutions need to be addressed first, the actual grassroots delegates can choose for themselves.

But the Saskatchewan Method is not perfect. As people are able to move from panel to panel, people who have not been present at the panel for the whole time can influence the outcome. In fact, some delegates complain of "roving bands" of people that seemed to come into the panel just in time to vote down a controversial resolution. Some have denounced the Saskatchewan Method as undemocratic because of this. I must say I really disagree with this: I think that by changing the rules so that people can only enter a panel between one resolution and the next, this complaint can be solved.

In short, I guess I can say that I like the Saskatchewan Method.

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