Tuesday, August 02, 2011

How could federal NDP leader Nycole Turmel be a Bloc Quebecois party member while an NDP member? Against NDP constitution

Interim federal NDP leader Nycole Turmel
How could interim federal New Democratic Party leader Nycole Turmel be a member of the Bloc Quebecois party at the same time she was an NDP member - and after being an executive officer - when the NDP Constitution forbids dual membership?

Turmel and the NDP have said today that she joined the Bloc in 2006 to support the nomination battle of a friend and quit the BQ in January of 2011.  Turmel has said she was an NDP member for the past 20 years and she has served on its executive in the 1990s.

The NDP Constitution is quite clear - you can only be a member of one party at a time.

NDP Constitution


There shall be individual and affiliated membership in the Party.

1. Individual Membership

(1) Individual membership shall be open to every resident of Canada, regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, or national origin who undertakes to accept and abide by the constitution and principles of the Party and who is not a member or supporter of any other political party. [emphasis added]

(2) Applications for individual membership shall be dealt with in accordance with the constitution of the appropriate provincial Party and shall be subject to the approval of that provincial Party.

Turmel is entitled and indeed to be commended for being an NDP activist and now MP with clear federalist views.
The issue is that joining a separatist party - for any reason - is problematic for many Canadian voters.
In addition, Turmel donated $235 to the Bloc Quebecois in four donations. She was also a member of the provincial party Quebec Solidaire until she became interim NDP leader.
Lots more questions need to be answered.


Bob Ages said...

Bill, Quebec politics and especially union politics is complicated. The real question is how much guts did it take for any union leader in Quebec to even be associated with the NDP, let alone active in a leadership capacity. Up to May 2 pressure to support the BQ & PQ was perhaps even stronger than the requirement in English Canada for union leaders to be NDP'ers.
Let the right dwell on such irrelevancies. Focus on the fight against the BC Libs.

Brenton said...

I think the real question is: "Who cares? And why?"

What are the practical implications of this? None, as far as I can tell. I can't imagine she's about to enact an agenda of separatism from her seat as interim leader.

This is an issue only for the pundits to rail on about.

terrence said...

Whats a mere constitution? Why follow it if it is in the way? A noble "leader" should be ALLOWED to follow whatever path he or she desires.

Constitution??? We don need no stinkin' constitution!!!

Anonymous said...

I'm glad to read these comments. Ditto ditto...

Norm Farrell said...

A major oops for the party. She should quietly move to a seat in the back so the NDP shows the Constitution matters and party insiders don't make up rules when they need them.

e.a.f. said...

so what is the real problem? Nycole Turmel will do a good job as an interium leader. She brings a national persective to things and has a good background in keep a lot of people happy. She will need these skills to keep all the new MPS HAPPY. And most of them are from Quebec. Layton made the right decision.
Ms. Turmel comes from a union background and in Quebec that frequently means joining any number of organizations.
Don't read too much into her having been a member of other organizations.
Get over it and lets focus on the issues at hand, keeping the Tories feet to the fire while they try to dismantle the country as we know it. Turmel has enough experience in this area to do a good job.

Anonymous said...

Tieleman raises a valid point regarding the rules regarding membership in the federal NDP—I believe the same rules apply provincially. This being the case, I assume Tielemen will soon be doing a follow-up column on the dual membership issue facing the provincial NDP.

Bernard von Schulmann said...

So how many more NDP MPs are current members of Quebec Solidaire or the Parti Quebecois?

There is a strain in the left in Canada that we should have one Canada except for if it annoys people in Quebec. The NDP is not making it clear if they are pro-separation or not. The party is in a position where it needs to make a very clear statement one way or another.

The problem is that a pro unity point of view will harm the support of the federal party in Quebec. A pro independence view (or special status for Quebec) will harm the party federally and provincially in the west.

With Jack Layton the NDP could be a federalist voice in Quebec by pointing out that more or less all the interests of BQ supporters is met through the NDP. The NDP should also reform in Quebec so that there is a federalist left of centre option in the province.

I saw this problem coming the moment the election ended. No party needs a four year term of no threat of an election more than the NDP. The party needs the time to build itself as a unified party and as the government in waiting.

I do very much hope the federal NDP can become the government in waiting. Canada needs to have the primary battle be between the Conservatives and NDP as to who is government and who is not.

Canada would be much better served with a future NDP government than the return of the federal Liberal to power.

Anonymous said...

Nothin' we can do about that here.

Bill go to the National Office and complain.

It is YOUR party, not ours.

Anonymous said...

That's right on! Anon 8:08 a.m...Canada will be much better served by an NDP Federal government than a Liberal one.

Jack has perhaps pointed out; that people like me who are Green Party supporters but want to align with NDP( who I have supported for many years previously)are hamstrung to know how we can help change the electoral system ie; STV so that there is more true democratic representation by the voters.

The Cons and Reform have merged very much to Harper's satisfaction(you'll hear no more from Tory Red's, that's for sure). So WHY CAN'T THE LEFT AMALGUMATE FOR AN EFFECTIVE OPPOSITION???

JACK LAYTON,bless his heart, knows that Quebec is ready to deal for real people,yes the citizens of Quebec and Canada and the rest of Canada has to support their lead. After all who cares how many affiliates you belong to on the leftie/liberal side of the docket!
Do you all want to see the "Tea Party" types taking over the stage? That's sure letting the tail wag the dog!
Come on! We have bigger decisions to figure out than if I belong to the Girl Guides and the Boy Scouts...at the same time.
The matter is in front of us. We need to get out on the hustings and preserve free speech.

Mind control is closer than we think.

PeterInEdmonton said...

Thanks for directing us to the (secret) NDP constitution on that. Funny, if she wouldn’t have been in violation of the (public) Tory constitution and only partially in violation of the (public) Liberal constitution. Either the BQ constitution is really well hidden, or my high school french prevented me from checking whether she violated THEIR constitution by being in the NDP.

I find myself musing about the word “support” a lot. Ms. Turmel is using as one of her excuses that she joined the BQ to support her friend, former “Federal” BQ MP Carole Lavallee. You can support an individual candidate by providing advice, volunteering your time or even publicly providing an endorsement and you don’t have to join a party to do that. When you join a party, maybe you might do it to support a given candidate, but you are still endorsing its values. When you give money, it goes to the party first and the candidate second.

Alberta Rocks said...

Jack sold his soul to the devil by winning seats in Quebec. Now gawd will make the NDP pay. Turmel was a terrible choice. No one buys that lame excuse. Oh I was simply supporting a friend. Another politician, same old bullcrap. Too bad Jack won't be around too much longer. And if he does, Jack made sure an interim leader was bad, just to make himself look good.

Anonymous said...

am i the only one finding this topic beaten to death and quite boring?

Anonymous said...

Bill, who cares? What's your beef against Turmel anyways? Not Union enough for you?

Anonymous said...

OMG!! Who doesn't want to separate from Ottawa and "The Harper Government"?

I used to be horrified when, there was talk of the west separating from the east, and Quebec separating, from the rest of Canada. It is to our folly, that we didn't.

I had three brothers, two brothers-in-law and a sister, in the armed services, during WW11. Our young Canadian boys, were blown to bits, so we wouldn't have a government like Harper's.

Canadians are in a dictatorship regime. I say to Nycole Turmel, go for it, separate. There is nothing left of Canada, that is Canadian. Because of Harper, we are not so proud, to be Canadians anymore. Our country's image, Harper has flushed down the toilet.

When you look at the disgusting mess, in the beautiful province of BC, it's sickening. Harper, Campbell and the BC Liberals reek and stink of corruption.

It wouldn't hurt me a bit, if we would separate. All our Canadian provinces will become, States of the U.S.

Anonymous said...

It wouldn't hurt me a bit, if we would separate. All our Canadian provinces will become, States of the U.S.

Yep just what we need. Join a country that is hugely in debt, will take decades to erase, minimal public health care, and a political system that is huge, expensive to operate, and not all that representative to the people who vote for it. Plus an over run of home bankruptcies, and sluggish job growth.

No thanks. Let's just fix what we have here.

Anonymous said...

"I had three brothers, two brothers-in-law and a sister, in the armed services, during WW11. Our young Canadian boys, were blown to bits, so we wouldn't have a government like Harper's."

Give it a rest. How about a government like Trudeau's? Like Chretien's?? Like Dave Barrett's in the 1970s??

"Canadians are in a dictatorship regime. I say to Nycole Turmel, go for it, separate. There is nothing left of Canada, that is Canadian. Because of Harper, we are not so proud, to be Canadians anymore. Our country's image, Harper has flushed down the toilet."

This "Canadians are in a dictatorship" always seems come out from those who haven't seen or been in one.

If you don't like Canada, the United States is only 40 minutes away.

Anonymous said...

Turmel another untrustworthy useless politician. And you have to laugh at Jack. Made all those promises in Quebec to get votes. Well the devil is calling. The devil owns your soul now. It's always a clown show with the NDP.

Anonymous said...

To posterL "I had three brothers, two brothers-in-law and a sister, in the armed services, during WW11. Our young Canadian boys, were blown to bits, so we wouldn't have a government like Harper's." Give your head a shake bobblehead.
From your comments, we didn't need your gene pool. The men in past wars fought for Canada, not for separatist and a free Quebec. The NDP is in trouble.

Mike Bocking said...

On May 2nd, many Quebec voters decided, en masse, to abandon the old logic of Quebec politics - that you were either an "Independist" or a Liberal (federal or provincial). By definition, many politically active people in Quebec had to choose between those poles despite having many other nuanced political views.
But on May 2nd, many of them said "enough of this sterile debate" and broke out of the political molds that Lucien Bouchard and Jean Chretien fashioned 17 years ago.
The most interesting thing about the Turmel debate is that many English-Canadian pundits, Bill included, who I respect, are still stuck in the old paradigm and are having trouble moving beyond the original federalist/independist dichotomy, which many Quebeckers have now partly turned their backs on.
This was the fervent hope of federal New Democrats for decades, because in the face of that debate, our voice could rarely be heard.
The great achievement of Jack Layton in the last election (but built on many years of hard work in Quebec) was to provide the vehicle that Quebeckers would be willing to take when they wanted to exit the old debate. It was a surprise, but not an accident. This had long been Jack's big hope, to capture progressive votes by breaking the old federalist/sovereignist dichotomy and freeing votes to move based on other priorities.
Now that Quebec voters have moved beyond that debate, it seems counter-productive for us in the West to say no, we'ed prefer to discuss "unity" politics under the terms of the old paradigm, and not recognise that politics may have undergone a fundamental shift in Quebec.
And isn't it interesting that it was Conservatives (such as Lucien Bouchard), who left their federal party to found the separatist Bloc Quebecois, yet it appears that it is the NDP which is the federalist vehicle that many Quebecers have turned to in order to move beyond the independist debate and look for a way back into the Canadian discussion.
We need to catch up to where that discussion is going and stop looking backward.

Bill Tieleman said...

Mike Bocking - I appreciate your comments, old friend. But my point is that Turmel joined the Bloc Quebecois over a decade after she became an NDP federal executive member. And only left in January of this year, just prior to being nominated as an NDP candidated.

This isn't the case of someone finally giving up on the separatist dream to fly the federalist NDP flag. Turmel joined a second federal party, in violation of the NDP constitution, that was openly and clearly separatist after having been an NDP member for more than a decade.

I think that raises questions. I accept Turmel's statements that she is a federalist but her choice to join the Bloc in 2006 is hardly an example of rejecting its principles, as she herself noted in her letter of resignation - it was nothing to do with the Bloc's policies! Ouch.

I think much of the spin coming out of the NDP establishment - not referring to Mike - is attempting to dismiss the facts and make this part of an historical shift. It is not.

Skookum1a said...

So how was it, Bill, that Alan Timberlake and other NDPers bought Green Party of BC membership cards in 1983 while still staying members of the NDP; even afterwards (as in Timberlake's case, certainly) running as NDP candidates? I remember very well NDP members mobbing Green Party nomination meetings, Point Grey's in particular, unrepentant about pretending to be members of, or interested in seeing the start of, another party while never relinquishing their NDP memberships? It wasn't just the Nanaimo Greens, either, I know I could come up with another bunch of names if I gave it some thought. Timberlake's whole purpose seemed to be to persuade the nascent Greens either to fold, or "return" to the NDP (many early Greens had never been NDP, however, nor in ANY party). So would you know? - did Timberlake resign his NDP membership for the duration of his Green Party membership and candidacy? If so, why did that not impact later on his run for the nomination for MP, or was he forgiven lapsing to another party for other reasons (such as, er, infiltrating them). As I recall now, there was Jack Boulogne in Surrey, who was also NDP....and simultaneously Green.

Bill Tieleman said...

Sorry Skookum - no idea but the rules have been the same for a long time.

austinpg1 said...

Just to correct the historical record. I wasn't a member of the NDP when I ran for the Green Party in 1983. I left the Greens later to join the NDP when unsuccessful in those days in convincing them to have a more parliamentary than "movement" orientation. You could then say I was a Green infiltrating the NDP.
Alan Timberlake