In 1939, M.J. Coldwell risked splitting the CCF over his support for the Second World War, while his pacifist leader, J.S. Woodworth, was opposed. Except that the two men worked out an agreement that permitted party members to agree to disagree. Woodsworth maintained his honour and kept his leadership, although most party members were deeply committed to the fight against fascism.
In 1981, when the NDP struggled with one premier who supported the Charter of Rights and one who vehemently did not, with similar divisions across the party, Ed Broadbent and Allan Blakeney worked hard to prevent the disagreement from splitting the party. A vigorous convention battle ensued, but one that left no blood on the floor.
This time the issue is pipelines. B.C.'s Dippers are opposed to them. Rachel Notley's government favours them. What's to be done? Sears doesn't offer a prescription. But he does give Dippers some free advice. In the past,
New Democratic Party leaders and activists . . . worked hard to ensure it did not happen, smacked hard those who would use deep party differences for personal career gain, and understood the restraint and caution that moments like these must entail.
Does it take courage for a Vancouver MP to grandstand at the expense of party unity in a leadership race about a controversial project deeply unpopular to his own base?Is it wise, if you’re the only woman candidate, to fling epithets at the supporters of one of Canada’s — and one of the party’s — most admirable woman leaders.Does it demonstrate leadership to deride a competing candidate seeking to find the balance a federal party’s leader must necessarily strike on internally divisive issues?The questions answer themselves.
We live in a time where unbridled ego seems to trump party. We'll have to wait and see what happens with the Dippers.