Direct flights to Costa Rica among resolutions at NDP convention

Direct flights to Costa Rica among resolutions at NDP convention

Establishing direct flights to Costa Rica and making women's studies a core university requirement are among the resolutions Manitoba NDP delegates will consider in Winnipeg this weekend during the party's 2017 convention.

Concordia NDP wants the party to encourage the province to pressure Air Canada and WestJet to create a daily flight between Liberia, Costa Rica and Winnipeg to help facilitate the premier's travels to the central American country where he owns a vacation property.

The resolution states in cases of emergency, Premier Brian Pallister should have access to a flight that enables him to come back to to the province without a layover which could delay his response time.

"I think my constituents were asking to make it easy for the premier to travel back and forth," said MLA Matt Wiebe (Concordia). "Ultimately it speaks to this anxiety people have that the premier is out of country and out of the province for chunks of the year."

Pallister has said he plans to spend up to eight weeks a year in Costa Rica.

Leadership race changes

Approximately 550 delegates are registered to participate in the party's convention which begins Friday night at the Winnipeg Art Gallery and lasts until Sunday.

Resolutions on the docket run the gamut — from protecting Manitoba bees to nationalizing the Port of Churchill to creating an asbestos registry of buildings that contain the carcinogenic material.

Delegates will also be considering 20 resolutions that propose amending the constitution of the Manitoba NDP.

Chief among them, whether the party should change the way it votes for leader.

In 2015, when former premier Greg Selinger was narrowly re-elected as leader, beating out other contenders Steve Ashton and Theresa Oswald, the selection process which uses delegates from each constituency and labour group came under intense scrutiny.

Several NDP constituency associations are recommending a one-member-one-vote system that would significantly reduce the sway unions have in deciding the party's leader. 

Others, including the committee to review the constitution regarding leadership selection, are suggesting a hybrid version of the one-member-one-vote system and the current model to allow some representation from labour.

The NDP constituency association in Lac Du Bonnet is also proposing the party change its name, removing the "new."

Any changes to the party's constitution require support from two-thirds of convention delegates.

Only one person has officially launched their bid to enter the NDP leadership race: Michelle McHale, organizer of Steinbach's first-ever Pride parade.

McHale has never held elected office.

MLA Wab Kinew (Fort Rouge) said in December he has not yet ruled out a bid for leader while MLA Nahanni Fontaine (St. Johns) has said she is considering entering the race.

NDP delegates will vote on Saturday for a new NDP president. Ovide Mercredi, the first Indigenous president of the party, is not running for re-election, a spokesperson confirmed Friday.

Correction : An earlier version of this story incorrectly said Ovide Mercredi was running for re-election.(Mar 17, 2017 5:58 PM)