NDP Leadership Bid Back on Track

TORONTO, April 18, 2017 /CNW/ - An eleventh-hour court settlement between the federal New Democratic Party and party member Brian Graff has opened the door to the Toronto resident re-entering the race to replace incumbent party leader Tom Mulcair.

Key to the settlement was a commitment by NDP National Director Robert Fox to apply a revised approval process for Mr. Graff's application to join the leadership race. 

Mr. Graff welcomed the settlement as a vital step in allowing NDP members the right to freely choose from a slate of candidates that is neither handpicked through a subjective "vetting" process, nor beholden to the party's elite. He hopes the party will apply the revised process more broadly to make future leadership contests more transparent and equitable for all candidates. 

"I am gratified that this dispute could be resolved without causing further embarrassment to a party that stands for fairness, justice and equality," Mr. Graff said, adding "but I am disappointed that it took a court case to bring this result about."

"I hope that this victory will help open up NDP leadership races to a wider spectrum of ideas and candidates," he said. "We need to get on with the job of giving NDP supporters a fresh approach for 2019, and a jolt of energy into what has been a lackluster race where the candidates agree on nearly everything."

A one-time candidate in Toronto municipal politics with degrees in environmental science, architecture and business, Mr. Graff hopes to broaden the NDP's base of support so it doesn't stay mired in third place. In light of the US election, Mr Graff wants the party to focus on improving the economy, reducing poverty and achieving full employment.

"Canadians want straight talk that speaks to their day-to-day economic concerns," Mr. Graff said. "A party like the NDP must remain true to its roots. But whether or not I emerge as NDP leader, I want to see my party engage in a wide-ranging debate about ideas.  We cannot win if we refuse to discuss sacred cows or chain ourselves to policies that don't connect with the voters. The NDP needs to get real."

Mr. Graff was disqualified from seeking the party leadership in late December, following a secretive, months-long process that involved assessing him against unknown criteria.  Although Mr. Fox vaguely alluded to concerns with Mr. Graff's views on electoral reform and immigration policy, the party ultimately rejected him without explanation.  Under today's legal settlement, the NDP has agreed to reconsider Mr. Graff's suitability as a candidate under a more transparent process.

SOURCE Stockwoods LLP

For further information: Nader Hasan - 416-593-7200 (office line); E: NaderH@stockwoods.ca; Justin Safayeni - 416-593-7200 (office line); E: JustinS@stockwoods.ca

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