Should NPA nominate a few candidates now to kickstart moribund party?

Post by Daniel Fontaine in

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Party at the NPA's house: be there or be square!
Party at the NPA's house: be there or be square!

Well, it's been a few months since the NPA took it on the chin in the last civic election. Since then, we've written a number of posts on the subject of what lies ahead for Canada's oldest civic political party. A party that for all intents and purposes has gone completely underground in the last few months.

It's not like the NPA doesn't have good people on their board - they do. However, while Vision and COPE move forward and kickstart their preparations for the 2011 civic campaign (ie hire staff, update lists, attend community events etc...), the NPA seems to be a party blissfully unaware that it's time to get over the hangover and move on.

Is there anything the NPA could do now to help breath life into their moribund party? What about if they decided to hold a nomination meeting this fall and selected three council candidates who will run for them in the 2011 election?

There are a lot of potential positives to holding an early "mini"-nomination. Firstly, it will actually breath new life into the party operations. It will also motivate people to sell memberships and help to generate much needed interest when no other political party in Vancouver is anywhere close to nominating their candidates.

The early nomination process would also generate thousands of new memberships and volunteers as well as help raise funds and inject life into the NPA. The nominated candidates could also help to support Suzanne Anton, the lone NPA Councillor who survived the election meltdown.

At times Anton has seemed a tad overwhelmed by the herculean task of holding a whole government accountable. Having three "shadow councillors" would help to lighten the workload indeed.

It's no secret that Anton fancies herself as the front-runner when it comes to the NPA's mayoral nomination to be held in a couple of years. That said, there are two big downsides for Anton with an early nomination process.

Having other candidates on scene would result in Anton having to share the media spotlight with others. This is a prospect that few politicians ever enjoy. However, as a sitting city councillor, she will always have an advantage over her non-elected running mates. Surely losing out on a few media hits would be a small price for Anton to pay if it meant her political party could come out of the wilderness and score a victory on election night.

The other big downside to an early nomination is that it effectively takes away a chunk of the power base from the future mayoral candidate. Normally the mayoral nomination happens first, followed by council, park and school board.

Having the mayoral nomination go first often results in the "leader" obtaining a massive war chest of memberships in their back pocket. This stockpile of memberships has proven to be a powerful weapon for previous mayoralty candidates when it comes to determining who will and won't be nominated to be part of the NPA slate.

If the NPA decides to nominate some council candidates now, the future NPA mayoral candidate will have no influence regarding who is chosen by the membership this fall. However, the three nominated candidates, all with bags of memberships, could well become powerful players in the race to see who will eventually become the mayoral candidate. This would certainly make for an interesting twist in the nomination race.

By only nominating three candidates this fall, the NPA would also retain seven spots on Council for any "star" candidate that may show up on the scene in the months to come.

Fundamentally changing the timeline in which NPA candidates are chosen could well prove for an interesting debate at the board level, assuming they are actually talking about these types of things. If the NPA wants to elect even a few more councillors come 2011, they will need to begin re-thinking past practices and whether they are truly interested in embracing change.

By 2011, Vancouver voters may well be looking for a free-enterprise, socially progressive alternative to the Vision/COPE team. At this point, the current NPA is nowhere close to looking like a government-in-waiting.

What do you think? Should the NPA start their process of renewal now by nominating a few candidates this fall? Check out our new online poll on the subject.

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