We are two years away from the next election, but we must begin our campaign readiness work immediately. That is why Charlie will strike an Election Preparedness Committee by January 1, 2018.
We must continue to pay attention to the composition of our party to ensure that it reflects our nation. We must approach our work through an equity lens, with a particular focus on decolonizing our work and our workplace. This is especially true of candidate search and development – and worker develop, where the equity lens must be integral to all organizer and communications staff work plans.
Charlie will work with the NDP Equity Commissions to identify candidates and campaign workers, not just for the next election, but for the future. That include the development and active promotion of fundraising streams that will be directed to commissions and equity-seeking candidates, increasing funding for the Agnes McPhail fund and the enAble fund, and by creating new funds for other equity streams.
Essential to this process is a commitment to identifying candidates and workers who are from our grassroots and not traditional path-to-politician streams.
Charlie is committed to hire field organizers who are representative of the diversity of our country and will expand the equity organizer position to several positions, providing a more representative staff support system.
In support of gender equity, Charlie expects no fewer than fifty per cent of our candidates to be women. But more importantly, we will prioritize women and equity-seeking candidates in winnable seats – and in by-election seats – wherever possible.
Candidate search and development
The NDP has traditionally looked to other elected bodies to find people who are ready to be candidates, and also to identify and support those who have potential. These include school boards, municipal and regional councils, and labour councils and union locals. We must expand this search to include Band councils, neighbourhood associations, and civil society groups to improve our equity reach. We must also get involved in municipal elections, training and mentoring candidates and campaign workers.
We must redevelop the Blue Sky candidate search list. We will create a plan for each region with the field organizer to determine: who is making change? Who should we have our eyes on?
It’s essential that we work with MPs and their staff on succession plans, whether for the next election or for several terms down the road, identifying potential candidates in each incumbent riding. We can also host “So You Want To Be A Candidate” workshops around the country with many sessions geared to women and equity-seeking groups.
We can make use of the excellent training and development opportunities already in existence (for example, FCM, Equal Voice) and develop a mentoring program with current and retired caucus members and potential future candidates. This would include a development plan, such as providing public speaking opportunities, media training and practice and debate practice.
The NDP’s Candidate Search Organizer position should be made permanent for long-term effectiveness. One part of their role should be to develop candidate search and training materials in languages other than English and French and to ensure that our candidate search plans are developed through an equity lens.
Campaign worker recruitment and development: professional development for our team
In each election cycle, we must identify local campaign teams as early as possible.
Charlie will work with our field organizers to identify activists who have the capacity and the drive to become successful campaign workers, and build a comprehensive inventory of campaign experience among our existing staff and riding activists. This includes creating professional development plans for staff and volunteers that recognize their individual goals for campaign work.
It’s important that we recognize the barriers to campaign and political work faced by women, such as time, financial issues, and the lack of respect often paid to women and that we immediately ameliorate these barriers.
We must never NOT be training. There are regular opportunities to train, such as provincial and municipal elections. We can also create opportunities, such as online training sessions, regional weekend schools, summer schools, and by-election immersion. The NDP needs to develop a certification program for campaign managers, voter contact organizers, GOTV organizers, and volunteer management organizers, and we can draw on the curriculum that other organizations have already developed, including post-secondary leadership and volunteer management programs.
We can develop a training fund to send potential campaign workers to provincial section schools and to provincial elections.
Integrating the party’s work is essential, so that we are partnering with provincial sections on all training opportunities and applying the feedback from activists and organizers to inform our outreach activities – and that outreach activities become our training and development opportunities.
Too often, we treat our membership and our supporters as bank accounts instead of treating them the way they should be: as our partners.
We have to fundraise with a purpose, and provide feedback to donors on what their donations have accomplished. That’s how we enhance our stewardship of the money we raise.
We need to integrate all messaging with fundraising, from our policy to our platform to our communications tools. To do so, we can marry state-of-the-art, data-informed, digital technology and practices with recognized direct-ask and event based fundraising. And we must engage all participants – MPs, staff, activists – in our fundraising goals and plans.