HALIFAX — NDP Leader Jack Layton was left to deal with questions surrounding his party’s direction Sunday as New Democrats headed home from a weekend convention without debating one of the more contentious issues on the agenda.
A resolution to hold consultations on a potential name change was expected to be voted on Sunday morning, the final day of the convention, but there wasn’t enough time.
Layton rejected suggestions the convention failed to produce any significant policy changes.
He said the party has developed a new way of thinking about the economy that differs from the Conservatives and Liberals, who he accused of supporting a “right-wing agenda” that rewards greed.
An NDP government would cut red tape for small businesses and help protect pensions, he said.
“More and more Canadians are saying we shouldn’t go back to the old ways,” he told reporters. “Maybe it is time to adopt the approach of the New Democratic Party.”
When asked about the name change resolution, Layton said delegates decided there were more pressing issues to discuss, including the economy.
But a party insider said it appeared some delegates purposely held up proceedings by asking questions about the wording of other resolutions and other minor issues.
The divisive proposal was to be the sixth resolution introduced during a one-hour time slot Sunday, but most of the hour was spent on the first resolution, which dealt with party governance.
Delegate Hijal De Sarkar said there was a deliberate attempt to delay discussion as delegates formed long lineups behind a pair of microphones.
“I was very thoroughly disappointed by that, especially by the fact that they used this filibuster technique … to avoid this motion from even getting to the floor,” said the 25-year-old from Ottawa.
“I feel this is a discussion that we need to be having.”
Jennifer Hassum of Toronto, who waited in line to comment on the first resolution, later said she wasn’t trying to drag out the process.
“I think there’s better debates that can be had like … situating ourselves in the political context of today and the future,” Hassum, 26, said in an interview.
“I actually think we need to have a debate on the floor about (the name). I don’t like our current name, but I don’t like any of the names that had been proposed.”
Another resolution to drop the word “New” from the party’s name without holding consultations was the 22nd item on the agenda and was never discussed.
But several delegates expressed concern over the proposed change, which could have proved embarrassing for the party, particularly in seat-rich Quebec.
Now abbreviated as the NPD in the province, the party faced the prospect of becoming known as the PD — an acronym that sounds like “pede,” a derogatory term for a homosexual derived from the French word “pederaste.”