Bigger than Spring

bigger_than_spring2This weekend’s ONDP convention marked many firsts for the party.  We test-drove our new “One-Member-One-Vote” election system, we elected our first female leader, and we had our first foray into the blogging world and the Twitterverse.

Political parties try to maintain control over their message, making it difficult to explore mediums that thrive on unmoderated real-time expression and conversation.  I want to personally thank and congratulate the party for trying these new forums.

The results surpassed all our expectations!  Our blog was viewed 5,000 times, over 800 people watched the live-feed and almost 1,000 ‘tweets’ were sent about the convention!  In fact, on Saturday, the Ontario NDP race was one of the top ten trending twitter topics in the world!  We were even bigger than ‘spring’.


Photo Credit: Justin Stayshyn

I want to thank a few people who participated in bringing the convention to the world through the web.  Justin Stayshyn was our back-end developer and Chief Tweeter (follow Justin here: @unionst).  Read Justin’s analysis here.  Steve Paiken was tweeting live from the convention floor (photo at right), and shot some great video of the race as it unfolded.  Ian Capstick helped spread the word and Michal Hay was the top #ndprace tweeter.

An interesting twist was the multi-partisanship of the Twitterverse at the convention.  All parties were represented as Liberal John Laforet blogged from the floor (and even shot a great interview assessing the political role of electronic media), conservative David Artemiw was tweeting insightfuly from the floor, and even Green Party activist Chris Tindal was participating in the discussion.  Chris wrote this comment on one of our blog posts: “Are you trying to make me wish I was there? If so, success.”

Family photo ~ Moving forward together


This weekend’s convention ended with a re-energised unified caucus, ready to move forward.  New leader Andrea Horwath is eager to go toe to toe with Dalton McGuinty and hold his feet to the fire on the issues that are important to voters in Ontario.

Today is International Women’s Day, which is appropriate since the Ontario NDP has just elected their first female leader!

In this photo (L to R):  Michael Prue, Peter Tabuns, Andrea Horwath, Jack Layton & Gilles Bisson

Andrea Horwath wins Ontario NDP leadership race!

After nine months of campaigning, Andrea Horwath has won the Ontario NDP leadership race.

Andrea is currently on the stage, addressing the convention.

She is joined on stage by the other three candidates, and the rest of the provincial caucus.

Now the hard part begins:  Keeping Dalton McGuinty on his toes, and rebuilding the party towards a 2011 victory….

Gilles walks to Andrea….

gilles_andreaGilles Bisson has officially endosed Andrea Horwath.  The room has erupted into cheers for Gilles, to recognise a campaign well-fought.

There is a lot of emotion in the room, as the Bisson & Prue teams make the difficult transition from adrenaline to disappointment.

Third ballot voting has begun…

Two left standing – convention floor erupts in cheers….

The sound is deafening, as hundreds are cheering for Peter Tabuns and Andrea Horwath.

All eyes are on Gilles Bisson as he walks out from backstage.  Who will he endorse….  ?

Gilles Bisson drops off second ballot. It’s down to Andrea Horwath and Peter Tabuns. Round 3 begins…

Round two results:

Bisson – 24.8%
Horwath – 43.6%
Peter Tabuns – 31.7%

Prue drops off the ballot – Supports Bisson – Second round voting begins…

s_prue1First round results:

Gilles Bisson 23.7%
Andrea Horwath 37.1%
Prue  11.5%
Tabuns 27.6%

As expected, no candidate received a majority vote on the first ballot.  Michael Prue automatically drops out, and the voting begins again on a second ballot with the three remaining candidates.

Voting has begun for round 2, and polls will close at 5:45.  Results will be announced at 6:15.

An old-fashioned leadership race (with a new twist)


While the other parties have been experimenting with new-age leadership models, the NDP is sticking with tradition. The federal Liberals recently decided to skip leadership elections altogether and use the much more efficient ‘acclamation’ model. The provincial Tories on the other hand have displayed great determination in their apparent strategy to have a leader who doesn’t actually have a seat in government. While these leadership models are interesting, they seem to be less engaging and effective (respectively). So the NDP is going to follow in the old-fashioned tradition of having a leader who is both democratically chosen by thousands of people, and also has an actual job as an elected representative in government.

But the twist on the old-fashioned method is the “One Member One Vote” model that is being used by the provincial party for the first time (the federal NDP elected Jack Layton using this method). The old system was a ‘delegate model’ that put voting power into the hands of a small group of members, who were elected as ‘delegates’ by party members who live in their riding. The delegates would gather at a convention and would vote on behalf of the full membership of the party. “One Member One Vote” means that every party member can vote, either at convention or at home.

This new system puts power into the hands of every member of the party and increases engagement and participation. It also creates a logistical nightmare, as the votes are now coming in by phone, website and direct voting from the floor. All these votes need to be compiled and processed in a short period of time. The timeline is short, the tensions are high and there is no room for error. There are techies all around me with crossed fingers, knocking on wood. So far, everything seems to be working smoothly. I’ve been really impressed with the team behind this event. It’s a policy conference, half-time show, media event and province-wide election, all wrapped into one.

Candidates, party members, staff and observers are all mingling & pacing as we get close to the first ballot announcement. With four strong candidates, it’s widely expected that no one will win a majority on the first ballot. The numbers will be announced in 10 minutes. The candidate with the lowest vote will drop off, and the second ballot will begin with three remaining candidates.

Stay tuned!!…..

And the voting begins….

There are over 20,000 NDP members in Ontario. Every single member gets to vote in this leadership race. Polls have opened here in Hamilton, and people are lining up at computer terminals to vote. Others are voting from home, by phone or online. Many members have also voted in advance.

First ballot results are expected to be announced at 4:30pm.


Horwath’s 30 minutes – “It’s Time”

s-andreaEach candidate has a 30 minute slot to put on a ’show’ for the convention delegates.

Watch live: http://convention.ondp.ca/live

Andrea’s show started with nominators (Tyler Downey, Marie Kelly, Peter Kormos, Chris Charlton) who gave short introductions. Now a video is rolling, almost wedding style: photo collages of her youth, friends, neighbours, colleagues, etc, with powerful symphonic music playing…

Andrea has entered the room surrounded by samba drummers!


“There’s no place in the world I’d rather be than right here in this room with you”

“Great change that shaped our province, started in rooms like this.  Rooms filled with people like us decided that every child would have an eduction, decided that working people would make a living wage, decided that no one would have to choose between health care for their child and a roof over their head.”
“We all came here because we are all committed to change”
“We’ll put home-made light rail in our cities, and turn Ontario into a North American transit hub”
“We need to invest in child care and make it public”
“Our econonic health and our social health are intertwined”
“The ‘invisible hand’ has never worked. There is no ‘invisible hand’!
“I am a community organiser and the one true measure of an organiser is that she trusts people.  And I do”