7 News Archive
Local NDP Fights to Keep
Waffle Movement in Party

By Ulli Diemer

The 250-member St. David NDP, which overlaps much of Ward Seven, has not been visible publicly in this area in the last few months. The reason for this, however, has not been inactivity. Rather, it has been due to the fact that the riding association has concerned itself largely with the internal problems facing the NDP at this time, problems having to do largely, of course, with the provincial party's attempt to force the Waffle wing to disband or leave the party.

St. David, a riding composed for the most part of middle-of-the-road members who support neither the Waffle nor the anti-Waffle party leadership, has been one of the most active ridings in seeking to find a solution that would allow the Waffle to remain in the party. It has been the St. David position that groups such as the Waffle should be allowed to organize around their views within the NDP as long as they act through the riding associations or other structures of the party and accept the responsibilities of membership.

Oppose Stephen Lewis

As a result, St. David came out strongly against the ultimatum delivered by Stephen Lewis and the provincial executive in a report to the provincial council that the Waffle disband or leave the party. A general meeting of the riding association unanimously adopted a resolution opposing the executive report. To publicize its objections to the executive move, objections shared by many other riding associations, St. David took the novel action of going on strike against the provincial NDP. This involved refusing to carry on normal party business, such as processing memberships and nominating candidates, and, as well, of picketing party headquarters. The move was one of the most dramatic illustrations of the fact that Stephen Lewis and the party leadership were acting against the wishes of a substantial portion of the party rank-and-file in seeking to purge the Waffle.

Despite this, however, the party's provincial council meeting in Orillia on June 24 - 25 [1972], adopted the “Riverdale Resolution”, which, according to Stephen Lewis and those closest to him, would do the same thing as the original executive report, that is, rid the party the Waffle (although it nominally allows the right to caucus.)

Not Last Word

St. David, however, is refusing to let this be the last word on the subject. It is now in the process of organizing other Toronto-area ridings to band together to oppose the leadership’s determination to get rid of the Waffle by making it clear that the ridings, the backbone of the party, will not accept this. The approach adopted is to work for an interpretation of the Riverdale resolution that would allow the Waffle to continue to exist as long as it accepts certain guidelines for behaviour.

Significantly, the Waffle had agreed to do as much before the Orillia meeting but had failed to appease the Lewis leadership with this. Such an interpretation, therefore, while just barely within the wording of the Riverdale motion, which recognizes the right to dissent and caucus in the party, would be directly contrary to the interpretation given it by Lewis and its other sponsors.

It might take a vote of the party convention, in December, therefore, to compel the leadership to adopt the St. David approach. At present, St. David is attempting to win support in other ridings and considering other moves, such as refusing to recognising expulsions by the provincial executive, should they occur.

Strike Called Off

In the meantime, the St. David strike has been called off and the riding is once more engaged in the process of signing up members and carrying on its other work. This includes preparing for the municipal elections in which Ward Seven NDP alderman Karl Jaffary seeking re-election, and in which the party may run other candidates.

Another task is the nominating of someone to contest the federal election for the NDP in this area. And beyond that, the St. David NDP is always concerned with finding ways of carrying its message of socialism to prospective supporters. Those interested in help or in getting further information can call 923-7031.

Published in Seven News, Volume 3, Number 5, 26 August, 1972.

Related Topics:
New Democratic Party