One member, one vote up for debate at Manitoba NDP convention

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Status-quo result after hours of debate on 1 member, 1 vote at NDP convention

The NDP's spring convention has been tasked with deciding how to choose the party's next leader, looking at a one member one vote system that allows labour unions and other groups to have a roll in the selection.

The group championing the one member one vote option has support from former NDP cabinet minister Steve Ashton and current interim leader Flor Marcelino.

From votes on various points of order in the convention so far, the group appears to have support from approximately 25 per cent of the delegates. 

​A committee of the party spent months trying to find a compromise and has made some recommendations, but many delegates on either side seem cool to the choices before them. 

Provincial council executive Kevin Rebeck reminded the delegates of how tough it would be for the convention to get the two-thirds majority vote necessary to change the leadership selection rules either way. 

"Both models have positive aspects," Rebeck told the crowd, urging them to get on side with a compromise that would allow some participation by labour groups.

Rebeck is also the current president of the Manitoba Federation of Labour.

Interim party leader Flor Marcelino was one of the early speakers to the convention Saturday morning, before the real political business heated up.

Marcelino, who has championed the one member, one vote cause in the party, urged the delegates to set aside their differences once the debates are over.

"Just remember who we are fighting against," Marcelino told the crowd.

Delegates chimed in with calls of "shame, shame," as Marcelino lashed out at the Progressive Conservative government, calling it "regressive" and describing Premier Brian Pallister as "out of touch."

Ovide Mecredi gave his last speech to the party as president of the provincial executive.

He promised the membership the party would be back in power, and told them he was dropping out as president because at age 72 it is "time for new people to take us in to the future."

Mecredi addressed what was a difficult time for the party — a disastrous revolt against then-Premier Greg Selinger by five of his cabinet ministers.

"It didn't do us any favours to have a divided party and a divided government," Mecredi told the delegates. "It's time to move on,'" he said.

Mecredi also addressed another big liability for the NDP: money. 

"We are not a rich party," Mecredi said, urging the crowd to "dig deep" to help repair its finances.

The convention's 500-plus delegates are crammed into the Indian and Metis Friendship Centre and even Mecredi noted it was a less than ideal location, but it was all the party could afford.

The convention has dozens of resolutions to consider; on environmental, health and agricultural issues, as well as many attacking legislation or policies championed by the current PC government.

Members will also choose a new provincial executive. 

The convention will wrap up on Sunday afternoon.